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Museum of Graffiti: A visit to street art past and present

The artists on display in the Museum are an integral part of the history of this art movement. The museum curators look for contributors that have had a significant impact on the overall art movement.

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In keeping with the spirit of Wynwood, Miami’s globally popular mural district, the Museum of Grafitti teaches the street level beginnings of the genre and how it has kept up with the times. As an immediate form of visual art, graffiti can show thousands of viewers instant art by blowing it up on subways, as it originally did in the 70s, and now on the sides of buildings.

“The Museum was founded in Wynwood, Miami in 2019 by myself, Alan Ket, and Allison Freidin,” says Ket. “I am a New York native and moved down to Miami to immerse myself in graffiti and street art soon discovering the need and opportunity for educating the people that visited Wynwood. When I met Allison, a Miami native, we connected and had a similar passion for education, art, and exhibitions. Soon after we began our plans and the rest is lots of work and history.”

Located on a choice block of Wynwood, the Museum of Graffiti exhibits art inside and out, with murals that change often and inside interactive exhibits with photos, videos, sculpture, and murals that explain the colorful outlaw history of graffiti and the artists that started it all as well as the ones that continue the journey.

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“The artists that are shown and on display in the Museum currently are an integral part of the history of this art movement,” Ket explains. “There are thousands of artists that need to be displayed, taught, and discussed and we are just beginning. As the curator, I look for contributors that have had a significant impact on the overall art movement and start there. Before we opened, I reached out to my peers, over 100 artists, with a survey asking for input on who should be included in a museum of this type. Their feedback was invaluable and affirming. The names that were recurring such as Phase2, Blade, Dondi, and Lee are all represented in some way in the Museum.”

Museum of Graffiti: A visit to street art past and present
Pop-noir artist BlackBrain painting the exterior wall of the museum new mural (Courtesy Photo: Sandro Abate)

While initially, graffiti was often cartoonish or name tagging, it has evolved into serious political statements, decrying injustices from the street level of neighborhoods. A current exhibit at the museum is called “Fabric of America: Artists in Protest,” which finds art messages emblazoned on the backs of denim jackets. Over 30 South Florida graffiti artists and illustrators were invited to create protest themed art on denim jackets in the tradition of the protest signs seen at marches.

“We wanted to be in the moment and in solidarity with the protests taking place around the world,” Ket says. “After some brainstorming, we landed on this concept and pushed forward in contacting artists. It has been growing as we speak to more artists and consider different causes that need to be discussed. The generosity of artists in recommending peers has helped us reach more artists than originally planned.”

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Museum of Graffiti: A visit to street art past and present
Demin jacket by Junk in the new exhibition titled “The Fabric of America: Artists in Protest.”

Providing a platform for artists to contribute to the national discussion is important to the Museum and a way for local artists to join the conversation. These artists work in the streets but Allan Ket and Allison Freidin have invited them indoors to engage in a dialogue of resistance with their audience.

“These wearable artworks articulate what you believe in at all times, without you having to say a word,” said Allison Freidin, co-founder of the Museum of Graffiti.

Included in the show is an audio/visual installation that counts down to 0 from 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time a Minneapolis police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck and video works by Chintz and Alan Ket. Internationally recognized artists Futura 2000, Tristan Eaton, and Cey Adams contributed new posters and prints that are in line with their outspoken dissatisfaction with what has become the country’s situation.

Museum of Graffiti: A visit to street art past and present
Poster by Tristan Eaton at the Museum of Graffiti (Courtesy Photo)

The new exhibit ties in with the recently created large-scale mural titled AMERICAN HISTORY on the walls of two adjacent buildings at NW 25th Street and 3rd Avenue. Focusing on the Black experience in US history starting in the early 1800s through the current day, the giant mural, curated by the Museum of Graffiti, with several artists contributing, tackles the subjects of police brutality, racial injustice, and resistance.

The local artists taking part in the exhibit include Chillski, Crome, Tackz, Disem, Ahol Sniffs Glue, Cash4, Rasterms, Klass, Cyst, Grab, Tragek, Delvs, Quake, Ticoe, View2, Chnk, Jel Martinez, Etone, Rage, Krave, June, Keds, Junk, Meta4, Drums Brown, Santiago Rubino, Cale K2S, Ruth, Faves, Blackbrain, Emerald, and Tierra Armstrong.

Another part of the exhibit presents the photographic works of Pablo Allison, a human rights worker and documentarian who since 2017, has been following the migrant trail from Central America to the USA. Each photograph depicts instances of protest graffiti that Allison captured on the trains used by migrants to escape inhumane conditions.

As for the future, the museum is continuing to evolve with the times.

“We are focused on surviving COVID-19 and pushing digital exhibitions and talks since Wynwood is quiet,” Ket says. “We have tremendous shows coming up with Lady Pink, Gustavo Oviedo, Rasterms, Noc167, and LA2 planned over the next 6 months.”

The Museum of Graffiti is open to the public with safety-first procedures, including an admission system that only allows for 6 people to enter the premises every 15 minutes. Guests must purchase tickets in advance at museumofgraffiti.com

Catch up with the Museum of Graffiti on Instagram @museumofgraffiti

Museum of Graffiti: A visit to street art past and present

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