A Tour of Wynwood Walls: Street Art Like Nothing You've Ever Seen

Wynwood Walls, Miami | © Dan Lundberg/Flickr
Wynwood Walls, Miami | © Dan Lundberg/Flickr
Photo of Laurence Kidd
31 August 2016

This is an article for anybody who can appreciate the creativity and quasi-insanity of a graffiti artist. Welcome to Wynwood Walls in Wynwood, Miami. This gallery is not like your typical art exhibit; here you will find paintings that are 40 feet high and stretch out for blocks. On display at Wynwood Walls are the works of world famous artists who have had the privilege and honor of being asked to showcase their talents and express themselves freely on the walls of Miami.

Kenny Scharf’s Mural

One of Wynwood Walls’ most iconic murals is the one that greets visitors as they enter through the gates. Easily visible from the street, this mural is hard to miss due to its sheer size and eye-popping insanity. Like a giant graffiti tag or throw-up, the piece reflects the impulse and speed of the artist working in the street, and his popular cartoon-like characters are instantly recognizable in the world of street art.

Mural by Kenny Scharf at Wynwood Walls | Mffitzgerrald/Flickr

Maya Hayuk’s Mural

Maya Hayuk’s paintings and massively scaled murals are a breathtaking sight. Anyone who lives in Miami and has been to the Wynwood Walls will instantly recognize Maya’s work if shown a picture. Hayuk has a talent for entwining the visual information from her immediate surroundings into her elaborate abstractions. By doing so, she creates a fusion between popular culture and advanced painting practices that allows her to push boundaries and explore new possibilities that create psychedelic experiences in visual form.

Mural by Maya Heyuk, Wynwood Walls | mffitzgerrald/Flickr

Miss Van’s Mural

This next Wynwood Walls mural is a crowd favorite and it comes to us by way of French born artist Vanessa Alice, who goes by the artistic name of Miss Van. She started wall painting in the streets of Toulouse at the age of 18, and quickly became recognized by her peers as one of the leaders of the graffiti scene in France. Her feminine aesthetic was a breath of fresh air in the traditionally male movement of urban art. This mural displays Miss Van’s iconic sensual female characters known as her Poupes. What makes her paintings even more impressive is that she still opts for a paint brush, while most other graffiti artists have moved on to the spray can.

Fafi’s Fafinettes

Sticking with French female artists, our next mural comes from Fafi, who is best known for her curvy, sassy characters, called Fafinettes. Just like our previous artist Miss Van, Fafi began painting on the streets of her hometown Toulouse, France. Fafi has an altogether different style than her counterparts, choosing to paint cartoon style characters with bright colors. These curvy and attractive Fafinettes allow Fafi to use her talent in an effort to explore femininity through stereotypes. Her Fafinettes are sexy, aggressive and stylized, allowing her to use these stereotypes to her advantage.

Crash by John Matos

Another eye-catching mural, this crowd favorite at Wynwood Walls was painted by an artist named Crash, a native of New York City who started painting at the age of 13. He fell in love with this form of art when him and his friends would go ‘bomb’ (graffiti) subway cars in train yards. Crash moved seamlessly from trains and streets to galleries. His first exhibition launched in 1980 at the iconic Graffiti Art Success for America at Fashion Moda. This show is credited with having launched the graffiti movement as a true art form.

Shepard Fairey’s Mural

Shepard Fairey is most famous for his ‘Obey’ campaign and for his Obama ‘Hope’ poster. Shepard’s mural for the Wynwood Walls, visible from 2nd Avenue, is a stunning example of his wheat-pasted work. Usually, street art is short-lived. But in this case, knowing that his Wynwood mural would be up-kept, Shepard was pleased to have the time to take extra care and meticulously plan out this creative and thought-provoking series of pasted murals, which touch on a number of issues such as climate change, war and human rights.

Shepard Fairey's Mural at Wynwood Walls | Juan Andres Martinez/Flickr

Os Gemeos’ Mural

This Wynwood mural has a lot going on, that’s for sure! You can’t walk past this masterpiece without stopping and wondering what it’s all about. The artists in charge are the Brazilian twin brothers, Os Gemeos (the Portuguese word for twins). Their signature characters have yellow skin and colorful clothing, and they appear on public walls, galleries and museum installations around the world.

Mural by the Brazilian duo Os Gemeos | Dan Lundberg/Flickr

Retna’s Mural

Not many people know this, but this piece by Los Angeles artist Marquis Lewis (Retna) at Wynwood Walls is a homage to people who have passed away. The unique writing style developed by Retna and layered across the wall reads ‘sacred dance of memories’ and ‘save the holy spirits’. Marquis strives to embrace the universality of human experience in his work. You don’t need to decipher his letters to think of the different ways in which humans, including ancient cultures, have communicated and recorded their histories.

Wynwood Walls | Juan Cristobal Zulueta/Flickr

Dawn And Gemma by Swoon

This is the name of a mural painted by artist Caledonia Dance Curry, aka Swoon, who specializes in life-size wheat-paste prints and paper cutouts of human figures. She studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and started doing street art around 1999 and large-scale installations in 2005. Dawn and Gemma was the result of Swoon being invited back to the walls in 2014 to participate in Wynwood Walls’ Art of Collaboration program. For her wall, Swoon created an intricate wheat-pasted mural that prominently featured the image of a mother breast-feeding her child.

Dawn and Gemma - by Swoon, outside the Wynwood walls | Osseous/Flickr

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