As Henry Matisse puts it – “creativity takes courage”. Only visionary leaders can see the direct correlation between art and economic development. Art has a powerful way of bringing community together by allowing open spaces to become spawning grounds for creativity and productivity.
I will not forget what I saw in Miami in November of 2015 – how a cluster of long abandoned buildings shaped the culture of a community and transformed it into a thriving arts district. This article, How the Wynwood Walls Have Shaped Miami’s Art Scene, describes how real-estate developer and arts patron Tony Goldman first started acquiring New York real estate in SoHo in 1968, graffiti was something that property owners wanted to remove from a building—not add to it. However, the developer’s thoughts on street art changed in 1984 when he acquired a property at Bowery and Houston, where then-rising star Keith Haring had famously painted a massive mural two years earlier. Rather than tear it down, he left it up for a few years, and restored it to its former glory in 2008 with dealer and street art fan Jeffrey Deitch, which would set the precedent for Goldman’s next big transformation: Miami’s Wynwood Walls.
My visit to Wynwood Walls was part of the Global Women’s Forum dubbed as Making Strides: Advancing Women’s Leadership organized by Eisenhower Fellowships with other organizations on November 17 to 19, 2015 in Miami, Florida. On the last day, there were several exposure trips arranged for the delegates and I chose Art, Economic Development & the Wynwood Walls with Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO Goldman Properties and Jane Golden, Executive Director, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (EF, USA).
For over forty years, Goldman Properties has been recognizing the value in depressed, undervalued urban areas, reconstructing and transforming declining historic districts into popular, thriving global destinations. The company has been recognized as the driving force behind the transformations of the Upper West Side, the Wall Street Financial District and Soho in New York City, Center City in Philadelphia, South Beach in Miami, and most recently the transformation of the warehouse/arts district in Miami’s Wynwood.
Goldman Properties’ portfolio of assets has received worldwide press and been the recipient of multiple awards including, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Awards, Developer of the Year from American Institute of Architects, the Louise DuPont Crown in Shield Award, the highest honor awarded from the National Trust for historic preservation, Urban Land Institute (ULI)’s Lifetime Achievement award and most recently being named as a finalist for ULI’s Global Excellence Awards for Wynwood Walls.
Here are some of the breathtaking artworks I was able to capture with my lenses.
There were also shops, food areas, and interactive museums.
The gardens were also filled with paintings.
The whole neighborhood are lined with street arts and building owners decorated their walls with art, making the whole community an art gallery.
Urban communities today suffer from vandalism that destroy properties and create disorder. I look forward to seeing cities investing in art that will not only bring about more jobs and opportunities for locals but also highlight their creativity and artistry.