Walking down the streets of art, looking at the amazing murals being painted by artists from all over the world, taking shots for Art Slant, I ran into a friend. “They’re going to turn it into a mall,” said my friend, a local art collector and curator. This was a few years ago when Wynwood had started to get too hot for comfort. Art walk used to be a pleasant experience. Then the masses starting coming looking for a piece of the hip and cool. Then, it got crowded. There was plenty of free parking and room to walk through all the galleries lining the streets. One after the other, it was like walking through walls of art. There was just a few dining and retail stores.
“As soon as they put in the meters, that was the beginning of the end,” said owner of GUM Galleria Andrea Pasin. The new management officially changed the name from Wynwood Arts District to Wynwood Business Development District two years ago. Now it’s clothing stores, restaurants, cafes, and just a few galleries are left. None of the new businesses coming in are galleries. “They come and try to make it. Some of the stores only last a few months,” said Pasin.
Most of the galleries that were in Wynwood, which made the 2nd Saturday’s Art Walk a pleasure for visitors, have left. The Robert Fontaine Gallery relocated to Miami Beach about two weeks ago, and the block of buildings parallel to Panther Coffee on NW 2nd Ave are being demolished, so all the galleries are being forced out. “Rising rents are also a big problem. They have gotten too expensive for the galleries,” said Pasin. Some others are sticking around. Harold Golen Gallery is staying in Wynwood. They are a real gem. Also in the works is to get rid of all the stores on 5th Avenue and construct residential buildings, which would really develop the area. I am looking forward to seeing how it improves. Is the inspiring, amazing Wynwood Arts District that drew thousands of people to see the walls of art soon to be a thing of the past? A few of us were lucky to have experienced it for a moment in time. It will soon be more like an outdoor mall with a few remnants of its artistic past in the commercialization of a its style. Some of the very few original artsy survivors like Harold Golen will stand out in a sea of preppy joints.