"The Devil Made Me Do It" By Atomik, Crome, & Quake.
Written by Anne Tschida
It’s summertime in Miami: Official artistic activity slows down as the temperature heats up and various members of the cultural community depart to cooler and slightly less lethargic locales across the globe. But the season also gives natives a chance to savor what’s here in an unhurried pace, as some galleries and museums leave shows up for an extended period and artistic life reverts to a localized phenomena. Here, then, is a taste of the Summer of ‘09.
While most people are familiar with Wynwood nights, fewer venture out to Miami’s art hub during the sometimes broiling, often lonely, days. But in the mid-day sun, day trippers this summer might have noticed a, well, marked change in the facades of the old neighborhood. Over the last year, graffiti artists have covered huge swathes of wall-space with vivid murals, surreal landscapes, tags, scripts, and memorable characters. Some have been commissioned, some are sprayed spur-of-the-moment, but by July it became clear a critical mass had been achieved to actually call the area itself an out-door art space.
All along North Miami Avenue and on connecting streets remarkable works jump out at the visitor, from the simulations of revolutionary posters in red and black on the Dorissa building and around, down to the dark, post-apocalyptic scene featuring two lovers in hazmat suits on 24th; to the image of a catholic cardinal across the street and the huge and elaborate murals on the corner of 21st.
So it may not be surprising that another highlight of the summer was the release of Miami Graffiti by James and Karla Murray, who documented Miami’s graffiti culture over the last decade in this striking book. Through vivid photographs and the unedited words of the graffiti artists themselves, the book reveals a remarkably vibrant world that’s been hidden too long. “A strong graffiti art scene has existed in Miami for over a quarter century, but it has hardly been documented,” explains the New York-based duo. “The scene has often been overlooked, not only because of its extreme southern geographical location, but also because of the media’s slick graffiti-free ‘South Beach’ image of Miami.” Locals such as Typoe and Santiago, who have shown at Spinello Gallery, along with others and the crews they belong to are featured between the covers.
Once summer is over and the crazy season begins, the Murrays will be bringing down a graffiti show for Art Basel, which will highlight blown-up store-front images painted over by artists such as Miami basedCrome. The storefront images that Crome and others painted on were part of an exhibit called MOM and POPism, where “we printed out almost life-size - about 60% to scale - images from our ‘Store Front-The Disappearing Face of New York’ book, and wheat-pasted them to specially constructed boards,” according to the Murrays. “Three of the large panels will be traveling down to Miami with us and exhibited at Graffiti Gone Global in Midtown Miami.”