For the last fifteen years, the tropical metropolis of Miami has been exploding as an international capital for high profile art fairs, prestigious private collections, and cutting-edge art galleries. To find the epicenter of all this artistic buzz, head to the Wynwood Arts District, a once scruffy, industrial neighborhood now radically transformed into a mecca for artists, collectors, hipsters, and foodies. Along its streets, mixed in with cool boutiques and fashionable restaurants, are galleries that show eye-popping paintings, sculptures, and installations. On the second Saturday of every month, the Wynwood Art Walk roars to life, with a typically Miami whirlwind of music and partying mixed in with art appreciation. If you really hope to dive into the scene, however, begin at one of the edgiest destinations: The Hangar Gallery.
Located right in the heart of Wynwood’s action, The Hangar isn’t any ordinary cultural venue. In fact, what you encounter here crosses the line between a traditional exhibition space and a hive of creativity. Muralists, sculptors, painters, and musicians use The Hangar as their base, while they benefit from public relations and marketing expertise that the gallery’s professionals provide. As you tour the latest exhibition, you feel a real insider’s perspective on the Wynwood arts world. The fascinating variety of paintings in the group show draws you in as you study the dramatic brushstrokes and exuberant, abstract shapes. Maybe you catch the staff and artists preparing for one of the gallery’s iconoclastic events, such as their Art Heist, where patrons literally get to grab art off the walls. One thing you realize quickly: this isn’t a sedate showroom, but a hub crackling with artistic expression and originality.
Now that you’ve experienced The Hangar, you’re perfectly situated on Wynwood’s main thoroughfare to continue your exploration of the neighborhood. The fabulous outdoor murals of the Wynwood Walls are just a three minute stroll away. These vibrant images, painted by artists from all over the world, burst with life. Wandering the path between the murals, you pause to absorb a huge painting of neon green and yellow figures. This open-air way of looking at art feels laid-back and very fresh.
After the murals, you stop in at hip specialty store and cafe Panther Coffee for some small batch roasted beans to take back home. But it’s lunchtime, so soon you’re heading over to the cleverly named Mmmm. While the tropical decor is undeniably charming, the real stars at this bistro are the French “tartine” sandwiches with yummy ingredients like tapenades, prosciutto, and fontina cheese. You place your order for a smoked salmon tartine and a glass of chilled white wine. It’s a bright, blue-sky day in Miami, and a sense of well-being descends as you people-watch the artsy types passing by outside. Now, bon appétit!