Murals aren’t the only art in Wynwood. The only in Miami vibe goes beyond the warehouse walls and into Panther Coffee, which started as a cart on a bicycle serving cold brew from a 1923 roaster at food truck roundups, and now has five locations all in Dade County.
The Wynwood location is in a prime spot, right on NW 2nd Avenue down the block from Wynwood Walls so it’s a great place for people watching but also for art. Step inside the shop and be greeted by the rich heady aroma of their roasting beans, curated from small farms such as Grupo las Cuchillas in Nicaragua. Then turn and look at the walls. The current show up is by Mark Diamond, a long time Miami photographer who has been experimenting with the limits of photography and runs Miami’s only 3D studio.
His images take the ordinary into extraordinary dimensions. His current show at Panther is of some of the buildings and architectural styles that have made Miami famous but seeing them in 3D adds a whole other layer.
“I’ve had the pleasure of delivering compelling 3D photographs of architecture for some time.” Diamond say on a sunny Saturday at Panther. “Architecture like sculpture should be seen in the volumetric depth and glory the designer has created. Two dimensional photography of such things is a kind of art crime. All of the images are actually made by integrating dozens of images that are slightly offset. Head down, pop in, and drink up the 3D goodness along with your favorite beverage.”
The buildings in the show include historical places like Tobacco Road – the now demolished roadhouse blues bar on the Miami River that held the city’s first liquor license. Diamond was asked to come take a photo by the clubs owners the day before it was set to be torn down.
The world famous Art Deco buildings on Miami Beach were initially a commissioned piece but Diamond took it several steps further by photographing dozens of them and making a composite 3D overlay on top of the main image of the Marlin Hotel. The rounded columns and corners and portholes of the hotels come to candy colored life in the image.
By contrast, a stately image of the Mediterranean castle like Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables is taken from a helicopter and shows the whole landscape around the lush property.
I love the neon glow of the Mac’s Club Deuce image, the longtime Miami Beach bar that was blinged out by the set designers of Miami Vice back in the 1980s and has withstood the gentrification of the area. The humble little stucco one story bar has now become an iconic part of South Beach, Diamond’s image makes it look like a movie set.
His picture of the famous Flys Eye that resides in a Design District Plaza is a beauty, taken at night it highlights the optical trippiness and cosmic glow of the orb.
Diamond is a fast talker and cerebral, with his camera trigger finger on the pulse of contemporary art and photography, and is always experimenting with the latest cameras and techniques. Originally a fine art photographer and photojournalist he turned to specializing in 3D Laser Holography, Lenticular 3D Photography and Stereography in time-lapse cinematography as well as panoramically in 3D. A photographer since he was 15 years old working for the Miami Herald, the now defunct Daily Planet and media mogul Jerry Powers. Diamond got this big break when Annie Liebovitz asked him to cover the Democratic National Convention in Miami.
Though this technique is not new, people are still fascinated by it. Diamond has a box of his newer images on the table outside Panther as we talk and people passing by all stop and admire and ask questions about the images. Parked out front is his trusty white station wagon hand painted with kooky zippy creatures by friend and famed street artist Kenny Scharf.
“It was trippy then, it’s trippy now,” he says matter of factly. “I think it’s because the Universe is multi-dimensional but photography is 2D, it belies the true nature of the Universe and real life. A photograph decides what view point – and only that view point – you are going to see. Maybe the 3D fascination is a desire to reproduce the experience of real life. There is a shift in perception when 3D enters the picture – literally. It brings back a way of seeing that you didn’t have before.”
Diamond has a gallery studio nearby open to the public that has many more images and even holograms on display. He’s done work for Panther Coffee for a few years now including ads and 3D wall displays of the beans and vintage equipment. The friendly owners Joel and Leticia Pollock like to keep it local as they roast their own coffee and the shop showcases information sheets about the growers, making the java’s journey from plant to cup a trip in itself. The shop also serves cakes, cookies, and sandwich bites in a dog friendly atmosphere with free Wi-Fi too. Over a million people a year cruise through Wynwood for the murals, but there’s visual caffeinated joy to be found on the prowl at Panther and the art by Diamond.
Miami in 3D History at Panther Coffee Wynwood