Wynwood's Sticker Culture Is Making Its Streets Unsafe
I love Wynwood, I really do. And I also love stickers; I've been collecting stickers since I was a kid and pride myself on having a pretty dope assortment.
Photos by Kerry McLaney
But something has been really bothering me about the sticker culture in Wynwood. They're everywhere. I mean, everywhere. You can't go a block without seeing at least 20... on buildings, doors, trees, fire hydrants, mailboxes, light poles, and even on street signs. Most of the time, the stickers have been slapped on the back of signs. But now, it's gotten so out of hand that they have been ending up on the front.
Yes, I get that the front is seen more than the back. But there is an obvious problem with this: People can't read the signs.
I encountered a "sticker artist" in front of Panther Coffee last week, and I watched him sticker the stop sign at 24th and NW 2nd Avenue, as well as the handicap sign in their small parking lot. At least he had the decency to remove someone else's tattered sticker and affix his own on top of it. I approached him and asked, "Why would you want to cover a street sign?" His response? "I'm beautifying the neighborhood." Has it really come to this?
Wynwood Ways was launched back in February 2013 as a "collaboration to make the neighborhood a more pedestrian-friendly cultural destination", according to Wynwood Arts District Association. Not only are the Carlos Cruz-Diez crosswalks vibrant and visually stimulating, but they also came with "STATE LAW STOP FOR PEDESTRIANS WITHIN CROSSWALK" signs on each side of Northwest Second Avenue. I've never seen one car stop for a pedestrian in that intersection. Why? Because the signs are completely covered in stickers. The signs have been replaced a couple times already, and it's only been a few months.
Goldman Properties once had a Sticker Wall in the Wynwood Walls where people were encouraged to plaster the whole wall, but of course after time, the materials disintegrated and became an eyesore. It was buffed out and featured murals by Roa and currently by Daze. Goldman Properties also had a "GO! STICKER" exhibition in February and it was fantastic! Over 100 artists submitted stickers that were available for purchase. I scored over a dozen myself. The Hangar has another sticker event coming up this weekend, too.
There are plenty of opportunities for sticker artists to display their work around town. I'm all for the sticker culture but please -- stop covering the damn street signs.
Just think: If Wynwood had garbage cans, those would be covered too.
--Kerry McLaney, founder of Wynwood-based 305 Creative Group.