"What's Next For Wynwood" Panel Devolves Into Petty Fighting and Personal Attacks

Categories: Art, Culture
Who'll save Wynwood from itself? That was the question on many minds at Books & Books in Coral Gables Tuesday night, when ARTtuesdays/MIAMI presented a panel to discuss the future of the district that's become so successful it's actually a problem.

As New Times reported in 2011, and then the Miami Herald restated earlier this week, Wynwood's community is bursting at the seams, and gallerists are complaining about vandalism, food trucks, poverty, budget shortfalls, artistic displacement, and the neighborhood's new party atmosphere. Those are just the core issues brought up during the hour-and-a-half meeting that looked more like a high school debate class gone wrong.

See also:
- Miami Herald's Two Years Too Late to the Wynwood Art Party

The five-member panel included moderator Helen Kohen; realtor and neighborhood developer David Lombardi; arts marketing consultant Ilana Vardy; Wynwood Business Improvement District (BID) project director David Collins; and Wynwood gallerist Fredric Snitzer. The event, one of ArtTuesdays' regularly scheduled events at Books & Books, drew a sizable turnout; a Books & Books representative guessed attendance was in the hundreds.

ARTtuedays/MIAMI opened with a call for $10 donations to support the arts, and discussion broke as soon as Kohen finished passing around the collection basket.

"I just want to set up a couple of concepts for all of you to keep focus tonight, and we have to remember this is Miami, and we recognize and encourage arts neighborhoods, but we also profit, so remember that," said Kohen, art historian and program member of ARTtuesdays/MIAMI.

Next, David Lombardi took the microphone. President of Lombardi Properties and key member of the Wynwood Arts District Association (WADA), he's played a major role in the development of Wynwood equity.

"There's seven new food and beverage places being created in Wynwood. There are three breweries being built in Wynwood, one of which is being backed by Sam Adams out of Boston to create its own Miami brand of beer... There are new retail shops coming in. It's never been better," Lombardi said.

He also explained he took the bad-mouthing of businesses in Wynwood by its own gallerists in recent media as personal attacks, confronting panel member Snitzer for his comments in the Herald.

Vardi, an art consultant and program member of ARTtuesdays/MIAMI, countered Lombardi's optimism with concern for the survival of galleries as the district becomes more a space about entertainment and less about art. Snitzer complained Wynwood is no longer the place it once was.

Collins, executive director of the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District (BID), was brought in by WADA as a consultant in hopes of implementing structure in Wynwood by creating one of its own.

"Until you find a reason for a BID to exist, which is normally to solve problems and enhance strengths, you have to identify all that stuff or you're just making it up," he said. "My impression for Wynwood is that their problems are all solvable. A lot of them are solved by money, which businesses can put together by asking property owners to self-invest and pay a little more in assessments than they do now and to communally share better security. Wynwood is a place of incredible energy; it would be a huge mistake to not recognize this."

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The problem with Wynwood Art scene is that it dropped into as "a scene" without ever developing an infrastructure. It never had a chance to develop roots when it gentrified the community overnight. That is why everything is unorganized. The corporate graffiti everywhere is a long term problem because it gives a false sense of "anything goes" atmosphere. Who takes an environment like that seriously in any community be it art or music? No one has paid attention to the fact that Wynwood is a glass celling fragile at the core because there is no permanent or stable  infrastructure. No one wants artists in LIttle Haiti or anywhere because they help gentrify communities without realizing this. 

Fred Snitzer is unethical and will swing which ever way is most convenient for him. He hasn't been around for that many years without crossing so many people. 

Carlos Franco
Carlos Franco

From rearding this article it seems like most things in miami , everyone has an opinion but no one person has seem to come with ideas on how to communicate with each other and begin working towards solutions. They do not even have a plan about how to keep wynwood grow as a area that also has retail and restaurants but they do not talk about creating spaces for artist to have studios at reasonable prices before having them moving elsewhere to be able to create their own works. Fred Snitzer is one of miami most prominent gallerist but yet he has recently moved away from his long time wynwood space because of cost( correct me if im wrong) but shouldnt that be a warning sign that needs to be looked at more closely as trying to prevent the exodus of galleries. Dont no get me wrong many galleries are not looking to leave but they should look at creating wynwood as a Art district in the fullest of the word that it provides activities for art lover outside of art walk. those are my two cents on the issue


I was waiting to hear about the artists' perspective but I guess that "what's next for Wynwood" is an arts community without artists.  Not that long ago, many artists used to live and work in Wynwood, before it became a real estate goldmine for developers. The artists have found somewhere else to live and work (Little Haiti, Overtown, etc.), and have moved on. While I don't agree with everything he says, I think Snitzer is right on the money here.  And Lombardi?  I have never heard one nice word about this guy from anyone.  

jjcolagrande topcommenter

1st off, well-written article, Briana . . .

Second, this ain't happening overnight; and there's plenty of time...

Hank Justice
Hank Justice

It is funny. Also noticed you guys misspelled "areas" on page 2, paragraph 4, line 4

Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

      Who are these people who make up the "ARTtuesdays/Miami" panel and who decided they have any say on what people can do on their own property?

D.f. Basora
D.f. Basora

Miami community "leadership" at its finest. It is really getting pathetic in this town. And given how sad it's been that's saying something


I am a local artist(Roosevelt Clark Art Sales.com), but I must admit that I have not visited the Wynwood Art District .  If anyone out there can advise me on how I can become involved in the Wynwood art community, I would be most appreciative. I have an online gallery (see address above), my telephone number is: 786-315-0599. Thanks.

Asüka Bazüka
Asüka Bazüka

What's next? Outrageously priced cost of living, that the artists (who made it COOL) can't afford. *le sigh*

cpchester topcommenter

@jjcolagrande Agree - sounds like growing pains typical of an evolving neighborhood

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