Through the Roof pix
As art prices rise, so does Miami's Wynwood district
Linda Lee -- Interior Design, 8/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
A Fernando Botero bronze outside the 50,000-square-foot factory that has become the Colección Gary Nader.
Thomas Ruff photographic portraits of Donald, Jason, and Mera Rubell on display at the Rubell Family Collection's onetime Drug Enforcement Agency warehouse.
The cantilevered concrete canopy at the adjacent Rubell residence by Allan T. Shulman Architect.
Volpato Hatz's cutout Uny seating for sale at Majestic at Home.
Japanese artist Mr.'s painting and sculpture at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Oppenheim Architecture + Design's renovation of a 1959 warehouse for refrigeration equipment.
The forecourt of Rene Gonzalez Architect's converted warehouse for Karla Conceptual Event Experiences.
|When Miami optimistically declared one of its many decrepit neighborhoods the Wynwood Arts District in 2003, the question on everyone's mind was: "What?" Then it was: "Where?" Now it's: "How much?"
A mix of galleries, museumlike private collections, Mediterranean revival bungalows in disrepair, vacant lots, and stray dogs, Wynwood is not easy to find. Even when you're in it. Basically just south of the Design District, the precise geography so confused me when I got to Miami to launch the design magazine Florida InsideOut that I wrongly located Wynwood in print—in an adjacent rail yard. Oops. (Now that rail yard is fast transforming into a mini city called Midtown.)
Wynwood has become so desirable that even being next to it is cool. The Design District has piggybacked its monthly open nights on Wynwood's. And then there's the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, founded by the philanthropist Ella Cisneros and housed in a 1936 boxing gym that a hot local firm, Rene Gonzalez Architect, reinvented via a mosaic-tile facade that looks like a bamboo jungle. CIFO is actually in the Performing Arts District, another optimistic designation, yet Cisneros affiliates herself with Wynwood, thus CIFO is listed on the official district map.
All this excitement-by-adjacency for a neighborhood that's hard to discern, unwalkable, and seedy verging on forbidding at night? "It's SoHo in the 1970's, when there was one restaurant, and the police felt you were on your own," says Terence Riley, the new director of the Miami Art Museum. Tony Goldman, whose Goldman Properties was instrumental in redeveloping SoHo, currently owns 20-plus properties in a part of Wynwood he compares to "between Broadway and Mercer" back then.
The earliest arty Wynwood settler was the Bakehouse Art Complex, a 1920's commercial bakery that became artists' studios and galleries in 1986. A decade later, the pioneering Rubells, Donald and Mera, opened their Rubell Family Collection in a Drug Enforcement Agency warehouse.
The 35,000-square-foot Margulies Collection at the Warehouse opened in 1999. In his relentless battle to house a growing number of first-rate contemporary installations, sculptures, photographs, and videos, Martin Margulies has since built a 10,000-square-foot warehouse next door. Meanwhile, the feisty Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami has launched a Wynwood branch, MOCA at Goldman Warehouse. You can guess which Goldman.
Bernice Steinbaum, a veteran New York dealer, moved her namesake gallery to a former crack house in Wynwood in 2000. "Condoms, broken windows," she recalls. Today, she presides over a sleek artist-designed space with video art in the elevator.
In the past year, Wynwood has exploded. Gary Nader's gallery moved up from Coral Gables in time for Art Basel Miami Beach last December, and a giant Fernando Botero bronze—no South American collector's home is complete without one—now stands guard outside the hulking gray factory building. Art Basel week also saw the arrival of a Paris transplant, Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, in a 1950's warehouse converted by Oppenheim Architecture + Design. Principal Chad Oppenheim describes the space as "something sexy, very French."
Oppenheim and Gonzalez represent a new development in Wynwood: the architect-designed interior. In the anti–South Beach— no sand, no nightlife, no deco landmarks—big-shot collectors and dealers once needed only some drywall, paint, and lights to turn a factory into a gallery. Even the Rubells took that approach at first. Not till much later did they ask Allan T. Shulman Architect to design a jazzy entrance, galleries, a bookstore, and a two-story library as well as a residential wing with a vast open kitchen and living room, plus a lap pool and tennis court—surely the first built in Wynwood. . .ever. Another pool and residence are coming to the Perrotin property; Oppenheim is slated to complete them by Art Basel 2007.
Will Wynwood make it? "I have no reservations, zero, nada," Goldman says. Others aren't so sure. "It will never be a SoHo," says Fredric Snitzer, a major contemporary-art player. "There would have to be 20 galleries on my block for that to happen, and we don't have that many great galleries in all of Miami."
Nevertheless, SoHo-style, retail and business are moving in. The recently opened Majestic at Home sells Thorsten van Elten's acrylic pigeon lights and Volpato Hatz's groovy orange seating to adventurous gentrifiers. The hip Buenos Aires ad agency La Comunidad has bought a warehouse and hired Studio Uribe, a recently arrived London firm, to design an office with a major indoor-outdoor emphasis.
Consider this. SoHo stands for South of Houston. The acronym for the Wynwood Arts District is WAD. Would you put money on that?