Miami Art Murals Content Control Issue: “Wynwood is fighting a proliferation of commercial advertisement murals”

Miami Art Murals Content Control Issue: “Wynwood is fighting a proliferation of commercial advertisement murals”

Photo: Wynwood BID
“Go for a walk in Wynwood and you’ll see the colorful, detailed work of street artists and graffitists whose creations have made the neighborhood a world-renowned destination. Along some storefronts, masquerading as art, you’ll also see advertisements for liquor companies, beers, designer clothing, Netflix specials and television shows, and chocolate milk.

Now, the Wynwood Business Improvement District (BID) is fighting what its board characterizes as the commercialization of Miami’s famed arts district.

‘Since the beginning of 2021, we’ve counted more than 20 advertisement murals,’ Manny Gonzalez, executive director of the Wynwood BID, tells New Times…

The Miami 21 zoning code for Wynwood prohibits signs or ‘advertising devices of any kind’ that are visible from a public right-of-way. The city’s planning and zoning code on murals regulates where such pieces of art can be displayed. Artists are required to apply for mural permits, which are issued by the city manager once the artist meets certain criteria, including payment of fees.

Once an artist has acquired a mural permit, they can obtain all the building permits the city requires for a mural to be put up. Applicants are required to comply with all the terms set in the zoning code or risk having their permit revoked and being disqualified from applying for future mural permits.

Although the zoning code allows for murals to have a ‘limited commercial sponsorship message,’ the Wynwood BID says most of the advertisement murals going up in Wynwood are unpermitted.

The business that allowed the Jack Daniel’s mural, for example, was slapped with a citation for violating the Miami 21 code by ‘illegally erecting, placing, or mounting an outdoor advertising sign.’ The proposed correction on the citation was for the business owner to take down the advertisement or acquire a permit. Each code violation carries a fine of $1,000 per day until the issue is resolved.

The zoning code says fees can be charged to the artist who creates the mural, the person or company who commissions it, the owner of the property where the mural is placed, the advertising sponsor of the mural, or the person or company who owns or licenses the product being advertised.

‘This past year and a half, there seems to be a middle person contacting major companies and telling them it’s OK to put advertisement murals in Wynwood,’ Gonzalez speculates.

Gonzalez says the BID believes this middle person is being paid tens of thousands of dollars to secure advertising space and to hire the artists to create the murals. That complicates enforcement, according to Miami police Cmdr. Dan Kerr, because the fine is no match for the lucrative potential of bringing advertisers to the area. Kerr, a self-proclaimed fan of all things Wynwood, says his concern is that artists might not know about the zoning code or that they can be cited for painting the murals.

In March, for example, Kerr says he talked to an artist creating a commercial mural who was oblivious to the zoning regulations.

The artist was told to paint by whoever they were working for,’ Kerr says. ‘Under the guise of hooking the artist up with a gig and money, the people commissioning the artists are jeopardizing them civilly. That’s one thing that bothers me.’ Kerr and Gonzalez say local artists and taggers will sometimes spray-paint over the advertising murals to make a point about commercialism not being welcome on the neighborhood’s walls.

‘For 15 years, the neighborhood has been a haven for artists to portray art to the public,’ Gonzalez says. ‘If you are a true artist of graffiti in Miami or in South Florida, it’s basically against the moral code of the artist to do advertisements. Your reputation is everything.’

But some artists say that art isn’t free and painting advertisements is a good way to make money to pay the bills so they can have leeway to work on passion projects.

One artist, who asked New Times not to identify them by name, says advertisements in Wynwood have been a problem for a long time, but they just recently became a problem for the BID.

‘The question for me is, is it really a problem? Or is this the only way artists can get paid in Wynwood?’ the artist says. ‘I make murals in Wynwood. I always try pushing the art and keeping it relevant. I think the problem is more than with advertisements. The advertisements are needed because no one pays the artists in Wynwood. The property owners don’t really like to pay for art.’

The artist says he believes advertisements in Wynwood are a positive phenomenon because artists have bills to pay and families to support just like everyone else. But he agrees there should be some regulations and controls. A painted Jack Daniel’s bottle ‘does nothing for the culture,’ he says. But there are ways to promote products, such as by creating a piece of work with a small tag underneath or on the side that says the art is sponsored by a particular company.

Museum of Graffiti co-founders Alan Ket and Allison Freidin say they too are supportive of commercial art that allows artists to get paid.

Freidin says there aren’t a lot of opportunities for graffiti artists to make money, so any deal that allows them to showcase their talents and take home a paycheck is ideal…”

— Alexi C. Cardona, Miami New Times
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“A pop of color on utility boxes in North Miami’s Griffing Park”

“A pop of color on utility boxes in North Miami’s Griffing Park”

Photo: City Of North Miami

“The colorful brushstrokes of local artist and once-North Miami resident Cavan Koebel now adorn utility boxes, benches and more at Griffing Park, part of the Community Redevelopment Agency’s Art in Public Places Program.

Helmed by newly named Public Arts Program Manager Michelle McKoy, this project is one of many coming to the city. Murals and public art have been popping up around North Miami for quite some time.

‘I’m looking forward to working with innovative artists and implementing public art that reflects the diversity of North Miami. Infusing energy on multiple levels is what art does, I’m fortunate for the opportunity to navigate this terrain using expressive art modalities,’ said McKoy…

In total, Koebel’s work is featured on four concrete benches, six utility boxes, one single-story concrete pavilion and two smaller single-story utility buildings… Koebel worked closely with the city in vinyl-wrapping the work at the park to ensure that the designs hold up to Miami’s weather elements…

A formal Call to Artists (released in February) for the public art in Griffing Park garnered 23 applications. The North Miami CRA Board and Art Selection Committee chose Koebel with a commission of $3,500 for his chosen design… Later down the road, they will work with private property owners along 125th Street to create sustainability murals. Another upcoming project will involve painting fire hydrants in the community and will involve the Police Athletic League of North Miami.

A majority of the pieces are required to include a specially designed NoMi Heart to distinguish them as Art in Public Places Projects…”

— Josie Gulliksen, Arftburstmiami.Com in Miami Herald

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Placemaking: “Clearwater Residents Encouraged To Beautify Public Spaces In 2020”

Placemaking: “Clearwater Residents Encouraged To Beautify Public Spaces In 2020”

Photo: City of Clearwater

“The city will officially launch its Placemaking Playbook featuring five public art projects in January.

They’re an inevitable fixture in any cityscape but, face it, Dumpsters and storm drains are hardly attractive.

The City of Clearwater, however, is recruiting residents and business people to lend their talents to turn these eyesores into works of art.

During the New Year, residents are encouraged to help beautify the city and turn Dumpsters and drains into meaningful public art by covering them in colorful murals.

The city kicked off its Storm Drain Mural Program Oct. 7 with a ribbon-cutting for the inaugural mural at the corner of Fort Harrison Avenue and Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater. The city commissioned Clearwater artist Beth Warmath to paint the first storm drain mural…

The city followed up in November by introducing its Dumpster Art Program in which residents are invited to paint murals on Dumpsters around the city.

‘This program presents a unique opportunity to transform something that isn’t traditionally beautiful into a work of art,’ said Juliahna Green, neighborhoods coordinator for the City of Clearwater.

The city will provide the blank canvas — the Dumpsters — and all the necessary supplies. Participants need only to supply their time, creativity and ideas to beautify the Dumpsters located at schools, apartment buildings and businesses.

Photo: City of Clearwater

Applications can be submitted by individuals or teams and must specify the design and intended location. The city must approve the application before painting may begin.

‘Projects like this have the power to brighten up street corners and bring communities together around a common project: a bright and beautiful Clearwater,’ Green said.

Photo: City of Clearwater

This is the fifth placemaking project the city launched in 2019. Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to planning, designing and managing public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and well-being.

Earlier this summer, the city introduced the placemaking projects Sidewalk Rain Art and Signal Box Art.

And, in October, the city initiated the Little Free Library program to promote literacy as well as community placemaking.

Under the Little Free Library, residents are encouraged to design and erect a public library box in to use as a free book exchange. The city encourages the use of recycled materials to create colorful book drops or residents can order a pre-made library that can be painted, decorated and installed in front of a coffee shop, public building, bus stop or school…”

— D’Ann Lawrence White, Patch

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“Brooksville mural tour offers low-key stroll through local history”

“Brooksville mural tour offers low-key stroll through local history”

Photo: Michele Miller, Tampa Bay Times

“Jan Knowles…is the docent for a new mural walking tour offered by the Hernando Fine Art Council.

The Livery Stable Mural, painted on the Lowman’s law firm at 32 S. Main St., is one of eight murals featured on a new walking tour sponsored by the Hernando Fine Arts Council. It features the livery stable, which housed the Bell Fruit Company, one of the most important businesses in early Brooksville.

Knowles is steeped in local history, having entrenching herself in several organizations over the years. She served as chair for the annual Brooksville Raid Reenactment, was an 18-year president of the Hernando Museum and a member of the now-defunct Mural Society that worked with the city to produce and fund the eight murals featured on the tour. She also is project coordinator for the Hernando Fine Arts Council and co-chair of Brooksville’s annual Art in the Park event.

The mural tour is way to bring light to art that might have been forgotten, she said, or that people might be wondering about — especially if they are new to the area…

It’s also a way to put to use the Civil War dress she bought years ago for the Brooksville Raid…

This tour promises to be a more low-key, casual walk through art and local history, with one modern caveat. Those who go can use their cell phones to access QR codes located on special plaques that include information about the murals and the artists.

‘The tour takes about an hour,” Knowles said, adding that the murals are all within three blocks. ‘There’s nice places to have lunch or shop so people can make a day of it.'”

— Michele Miller, Tampa Bay Times
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Placemaking Technology: Shine Mural Festival in St Pete has a new twist this year

Placemaking Technology: Shine Mural Festival in St Pete has a new twist this year

Photo: Charlie Belcher, Charlie’s World, Fox 13 News
“Company brings wall murals into focus through smart app”

“There is a new way to learn even more about the murals in downtown St. Petersburg, thanks to Pixelstix.

They’ve teamed up with the folks from SHINE Mural Festival to create a digital gallery.

Using a smartphone with the Pixelstix app, visitors to a mural can scan a Pixelstix plaque which will load docent-level information about the mural and the artist onto their device.

Additionally, interactive maps show the locations of the festival’s collection of murals, creating a personalized mural tour… ”

— Charlie Belcher, Fox 13 News
See video to learn about the new technology, meet the founder of Pixelstix and experience Charlie’s World
Read more about the Shine Festival and murals in Tampa Bay Times

Coco Village: Murals on benches, electrical boxes and storm drains

Coco Village: Murals on benches, electrical boxes and storm drains

Photo: Olivia McKelvey

“Growing up in the Historic Cocoa Village, Vashti Verschoor remembers clothing boutiques and restaurants lining the village streets.

The Cocoa Village she knows now has completely different look.

Today, the 42-year-old mom of two is one of many artists who has work represented throughout the village. Whether it be intricately and whimsically painted benches, electrical boxes or even storm drains, Cocoa Village is bursting with color around every corner.

“Artwork is our primary, first written language,” Verschoor said. “The way that we speak to each other, the way that we documented our history, it all started with drawings on a cave wall. So, I think that when we support local art, we’re supporting our primary language, and I’m so proud the village has supported me and others alike.”

Cocoa Village has numerous community art projects such as the painted benches, the artwork displayed across electrical boxes at traffic lights, and now even storm drains that are displaying artwork, leaving “marks of beauty” throughout Cocoa…

If you are interested in learning more about the community art projects in Cocoa Village or would like to become a sponsor for one of the benches, please visit ”

— Olivia McKelvey, Florida Today

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