All the world knows that Miami is the center of the art world when Art Basel Miami Beach comes to town, bringing with it a carnival of art fairs during the first week of December every year. But South Florida residents and visitors in all seasons know that there is a terrifically vibrant art scene in Miami year-round.

To cite just three examples of this creative energy, consider these art happenings: a new garden space and murals at Wynwood Walls; Magnus Sodamin’s explosions of color transforming a neighborhood; and the red fabric installation at the Bass Museum annex at the Miami Beach Library. 

“Walls of Change” Goes Big in Wynwood

Miami’s Wynwood Walls project continues to dominate the regional mural conversation, with the enormous new Wynwood Walls Garden space as well as a new indoor gallery space woven into the project’s curatorial theme of “The Art of Collaboration.” 

“Walls of Change,” created for Miami Art Week 2015 in December, features 14 new murals and installations in the newly completed back courtyard that is Wynwood Walls Garden. Officially opened in December, the garden space represents another project spearheaded by Goldman Properties, the real-estate and urban development company that revitalized/gentrified the area after revitalizing Soho in New York in the 1970s and South Miami Beach in the 1980s.

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Wynwood Walls Garden space.

Wynwood Walls Garden. Photo courtesy PlusUrbia.

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Prior to his appointment in 2010 as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles—a post he resigned in 2013—curator Jeffrey Deitch co-curated the original exhibition of murals in the original courtyard space by the restaurant. For Wynwood Walls Garden, Goldman Properties commissioned the Spanish murals team of Pichi and Avo to create works on discarded, repurposed metal shipping containers, and then stacked them on top of each other to create an installation sculpture.

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Wynwood Walls Garden.

Wynwood Walls Garden. Photo courtesy PlusUrbia.

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Five U.S. muralists — Crash, Cryptik, Hueman, Logan Hicks, and Magnus Sodamin — were chosen to join international artists to create an array of large murals for the Wynwood Walls Garden space curated by Goldman Properties CEO Jessica Goldman Srebnick, the daughter of Goldman Properties founder, the late Tony Goldman.

The international artists included: Case (Germany), el Seed (France), Ernest Zacharevic (Singapore), Fafi (France), INTI (Chile), the London Police (UK), Pichi & Avo (Spain), and Alexis Diaz (Puerto Rico).

Coconut Grove’s award-winning design firm PlusUrbia worked in conjunction with Goldman Properties to conceptualize the space, carving out angular pathways, slanted planters, and landscaped nooks for sitting and gazing. It’s a pretty breathtaking space, solely designed for mural viewing.

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Wynwood Walls Garden. Photo courtesy Plus Urbia.

Wynwood Walls Garden. Photo courtesy PlusUrbia.

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Santiago Eliaschev, director of architecture at PlusUrbia, noted in a press release that “the idea was to take the Wynwood Walls and Doors concept a step further by merging art and nature. The garden itself was designed around sight lines and vantage points to experience the murals. In essence, the garden functions as a stage where the murals are the protagonists. It’s a serene place to relax in the shade, a retreat from the concrete and asphalt.”

According to the Real Deal website, the Wynwood Walls Garden could soon be home to a restaurant or other retail space, which would join the popular Goldman family eateries flanking the original Wynwood Walls: Joey’s Italian Café and Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. 

For now, though, the space is open to the public, now free from Art Basel and Miami Art Week traffic and tourists.

“Wynwood is about exploration and discovery as much as it is edgy and unrefined," Eliaschev added. "We incorporate all these elements into an urban landscape, an oasis that enhances the way you experience art.”

“In whatever way this space is used,” he concluded, “we hope people can appreciate and experience how art and architecture and landscape can be combined to create a unique place.”

Wynwood Is a Coloring Book for Magnus Sodamin

One of the standout artists with work in Wynwood Walls Garden, Magnus Sodamin, is having a stellar season on his own, as his unique rainbow floral galaxy explosions have virtually taken over the Wynwood district. The 29-year-old Sodamin has already had two sold-out solo exhibitions through Primary Projects, where he painted the floors and walls of the entire gallery in a riotous explosion of colors in addition to exhibiting paintings.

In the most recent show, “Calm Before the Sun,” Sodamin had lighting playing a major role, as the floors and walls were painted with DayGlo fluorescent pigments while the medium for the paintings was regular acrylics. The lighting was rigged to shift from black light to normal incandescent illumination every 20 minutes, changing the entire color spectrum of the room and effectively altering mood at the same time.

All the paintings were sold, and the show had to close early as the large crowds the show attracted were threatening to damage works that had already been paid for, which were hung from the ceiling about a foot off the wall.

Sodamin also painted an entire block, the so-called Wynwood Block along NE 2nd Avenue that houses various retail stories and the Wynwood Diner. In doing so, he has actually created a new genre: it’s not street art, it’s not mural, it’s an undulating endless rainbow of pulsing color punctuated by splashes and streaks and ghostly flowers that rise out of the ether. The artist’s gorgeous ethereal work has also found its way onto magazine covers as well as a building in Little Havana.

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Artwork by Magnus Sodamin.

Artwork by Magnus Sodamin.

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Magnus Sodamin was born in Manhattan, then spent time training at the Nansenskolen (Nansen Academy) in Lillehammer, Norway, and received his BFA from the New World School of the Arts in Miami in 2012. His work has been featured at group exhibitions staged in Lillehammer and throughout Miami, including the 2012 BFA Exhibition held at the Cisneros-Fontanals Art Foundation.

Sodamin now lives and works in Miami, invigorated by the particular tropical light as well as his love for being on the water.

“Exercising intuition is a driving force of my work, celebrating the cerebral act of discovery, and enacting upon it,” he states on his website. “Through various methods, chance is as integral to me as control. I am interested in the relativity of the pictorial/surface; embracing micro/macro relationships. Exploring the territory between science, spirituality, and natural phenomena, my work seeks to evoke an interpretive abstraction, facilitating the tension of the unknown and the self-aware.”

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Work in progress by Magnus Sodamin.

Work in progress by Magnus Sodamin.

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Jérémy Gobé Transforms Bass Annex with Knitted Fabric

Crochet, knitted and yarn works have been making their way into the fine art scene for years, from Mike Kelley’s scruffy thrift store animals and blankets to the likes of Lisa Anne Auerbach, whose clever handmade sweaters including embedded words and pictures are currently being shown through Gavlak Gallery in Palm Beach. 

Now comes a new textile artist, Jérémy Gobé, who lives and works in Paris and has discovered some red wool fabric, claimed from a shuttered factory in rural France, that would look ridiculously at home on a ski sweater. He takes long swaths of the wooly stuff and wraps columns and rooms and even desks with it in an installation called “Freedom Leading Wool” at the Bass Museum annex space in the Miami Beach Library.

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“Freedom Leading Wool” by Jérémy Gobé at the Bass Museum annex space in the Miami Beach Library.

“Freedom Leading Wool” by Jérémy Gobé at the Bass Museum annex space in the Miami Beach Library.

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Detail of “Freedom Leading Wool” by Jérémy Gobé at the Bass Museum annex space in the Miami Beach Library.

Detail of “Freedom Leading Wool” by Jérémy Gobé at the Bass Museum annex space in the Miami Beach Library.

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Gobé uses fabric and mesh to create a dramatic enveloping space. The work is meant to recall a dying industry and its displaced craftsmen; the title references the movement, drama and patriotism of the 1830 masterpiece by Eugène Delacroix, “Liberty Leading the People.”

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“Freedom Leading Wool” by Jérémy Gobé at the Bass Museum annex space in the Miami Beach Library.

“Freedom Leading Wool” by Jérémy Gobé at the Bass Museum annex space in the Miami Beach Library.

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“Freedom Leading Wool” by Jérémy Gobé at the Bass Museum annex space in the Miami Beach Library.

“Freedom Leading Wool” by Jérémy Gobé at the Bass Museum annex space in the Miami Beach Library.

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Gobe takes the fabric and stretches it over unseen pointed objects protruding from the walls; he tacks it plasma-like around corners and over the reception desktop. On view through February 28, it’s an unsettling environment, at once natural and slightly threatening, like being inside a blood vessel or war-torn environment.

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“Freedom Leading Wool” by Jérémy Gobé at the Bass Museum annex space in the Miami Beach Library.

“Freedom Leading Wool” by Jérémy Gobé at the Bass Museum annex space in the Miami Beach Library.

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The Bass Museum is closed for renovation until fall 2016, but has taken some adjacent exhibit spaces at the Miami Beach Library and storefronts on Collins Avenue. The sculptures from Art Basel Public Spaces are still on display in the park in front of the museum, though they are not quite as memorable as last year’s crop.

One standout is Tony Tasset’s “Deer,” a huge, blown-up realistic fiberglass statue of Bambi in a world of giants, which is a hit with the kids at the park. Deer are rare in Miami and some are endangered, which makes this sighting almost a deep woods thrill.

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"Deer" by Tony Tasset installed in Collins Park in front of the Bass Art Museum.

"Deer" by Tony Tasset installed in Collins Park in front of the Bass Art Museum.

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Copyright 2016 Hamptons Art Hub LLC. All rights reserved.

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