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A Decade of Art Basel

December 16, 2019

 

 

When I made my first pilgrimage down to Wynwood, Miami for Art Basel 2010, I was accompanied by my good friend and artist AOM.  Earlier in April of 2010 AOM started coming out with me and became my partner who had the eyes in the back of my head during the ‘art after dark productions’ with the New York night walks I made frequently back then.  When we arrived in Wynwood I had no idea how it worked, how to get a wall to paint or who to talk to.  It was a crash course in ‘learn as you go’ kind of adventure.   I was equipped with wheat-paste poster art pieces but what I really wanted to do was paint a wall.  While I was pasting up a Table Series Logo logo in a few spots on and along NW 2nd Street around Wynwood Walls, I received ‘the call’.   As I was ‘getting up’ an original oil pastel Grampa a call from an unknown phone number, which I usually do not pick up unfamiliar calls, came in.  This time destiny showed its hand and intervened because I did the unusual, I answered the call.  It was an old friend from when I was an undergraduate at the School of Visual Arts (SVA), Michael Defeo, also known as The Flower Guy, who is an early pioneer of New York Street Art since 1993.   He invited me to paint a piece of a warehouse wall located on the other side of Wynwood (eastside) at 101 NE 28th Street, which is close to NE 2nd Avenue.  Ten years ago that area was the outskirts of Wynwood.  It was dark and quiet just like NW 5th Avenue which was even more desolate at night, nobody was there.   Ten years later NW 5th Ave. is all about lights, camera, murals, shows and action, with bumper-to-bumper traffic and people are coming to and fro from NW 2nd Ave. with many places to go.

 

When I arrived at the warehouse by mid-afternoon on Basel Friday, Defeo was there with the rep from the building, we spoke about which space we would carve up between Defeo, myself and Adam Skewville another artist who is coincidentally also an SVA alumni who came to paint the next day.  The Flower Guy and I made the plan to go to the local hardware store on NE 2nd Avenue to get paint and supplies.  By the time all of that was done the sun was setting.  The next morning, on Art Basel Saturday I began to paint the Grampa, referring to my business card and a wheat-paste poster. 

AOM and I climbed onto a lift that was provided for me, which I had never been on before then, nor had I ever drawn at such a large scale prior to that day.  I gave AOM a can of spray paint to assist with some color fills.  Turned out, that was the first time AOM ever used a spray paint can, that trip was filled with unforgettable moments for both of us.  It was a wild experience going down to Art Basel for the first time and painting a three-story high mural on a big scissor lift.   Thirteen hours later I completed my first large scale mural in the Fumeroism style which in other words means Grafstract by Fumero.  This was a fantastic opportunity and I thank Defeo for the invitation to create a monumental moment in my art life that I will never forget.
That was the mural that started it all for me in Wynwood and I was stricken with Basel Fever for the next nine years to come.  Since 2010 I have done many murals and the years that stand out in my mind are 2012 (with Army of One), 2013 (Notorious BIG), 2015 (The Grampa), 2016 (Nanny’s Kitchen) and 2017 (Dutch Masters Cigars).   A special shout out to Bryan Leaf-Mech , Rob Fogle and AOMLOD for collaborations together and rocking out side by side during the Basel years, super fune, living the dream times they were, that’s for certain.   

To say Wynwood has not changed at all would be incorrect, it has grown expediently with high rise residential condos and more and more gallery spaces popping up and Air-BNB’s replacing homes.  Massive construction projects have gentrified the former Miami hood into “Hollywynwood” and once a year the visual and audio amusement park of Art Basel becomes a red dot on the planet marking the hot spot which usually happens during  the first weekend of every December every year.  Ten years of fumeroizing has been a blast and now it’s time to leave it in the past.  Thank you Art Basel, you have been very good to me over the years I’ll miss ya!