Wynwood Life: A Three-Day Festival Celebrating Miami and Its Artists
"With everything happening in Wynwood, we started a blog following what was going on called wynwoodlife.com, and in a very short time, the site just blew up and our facebook page blew up," Albelo noted. "I started thinking that we should do something for the artists, because every time I would talk to any artist or any craftsperson in Miami, they would say that Art Miami and all these things around Art Basel and all the satellite fairs were just ridiculously expensive for vendors. A space during Wynwood Art Fair in February, for instance, is about $4,000."
One of the major themes that typifies the Wynwood Life Festival is this respect for the artists. While Albelo may not be an artist himself, it would not be too much of a stretch to say this festival has been built from the ground up for artists by artists, with heavy hitters like Miami's Trek6 coming on board early to create the poster for the event. The idea that started off as a poster grew into an entire wall, built in Trek6's studio, for him to paint a commemorative piece for the festival that would also serve as the promotional poster. This wall was then disassembled, piece by piece, and will be sold as 350 bricks with the first 350 posters purchased.
"I figured we could do something more street level, something more grassroots," the organizer explained, "and we could keep it really affordable for the vendors, like $300. I have some friends who are artists, and they all said to do it. But we didn't wan't to be just like the Coconut Grove Arts Festival -- which is a great event -- but we wanted something that's more representative of what Wynwood is. You think of Wynwood, and yes, it's artsy and eclectic like the Grove, but it definitely has much more of a nightlife vibe. It definitely has much more of a fashion sense because of where it is in Miami's original fashion district, so we modeled the event after what Wynwood life really is: art, music, food, and fashion."
This first year will see more than 100 vendors, many of whom would not have the interest or the cash on hand to partake in a bigger, pricier festival, meaning that Wynwood Life will put you face to face with many of Miami's prodigious and prolific artists who could otherwise go totally unknown to you. What Albelo and company have put together is a direct line between local artist and local audience, which seems extremely in tune with the spirit of Wynwood and the idea of saturating this piece of the city with artwork for everyday enjoyment.
"I think once this first year succeeds," Albelo began assuredly, "we're going to have even more support from the community. I mean we've already had some great partnerships, for instance, Miami-Dade College, which is bringing in our music headliner on Friday night, a Congolese artist named Baloji. Now, I had honestly never heard of Baloji, but then we found out that he played at a party at Coachella last year and had Bono come up on stage with him and sing and dance with him, which makes him a pretty serious guy. Him playing at the festival was made possible because of a partnership we have with Miami-Dade College and their live arts program, and that's a big deal."
During the three days, there will be more than 20 bands, including local favorites, ¡Suenalo!, headlining on the last day. According to Albelo and company, they're expecting some 20,000 people to come to Wynwood Life throughout the weekend, and at this point, they couldn't be happier with what they've put together.
"We really believe that the majority of Miami doesn't really know what Wynwood is or even where it is," stated Albelo. "My own wife didn't realize that Wynwood and Midtown and the Design District are really three separate, unique areas. And it wasn't until I took her down there that she really appreciated Wynwood as its own neighborhood. Since we're really reaching out to the general public to come out to Wynwood Life, we think that's going to be a really big boom for the area. We think people are going to say 'Hey, this is much cooler than what I would've imagined. This is much cooler than what I hear about or the pictures I see online.' Hopefully, it'll get people to come and be more familiar with Wynwood day after day in their lives."
The inaugural kickoff of Wynwood Life will get started this Friday at 5 p.m. along NW Sixth Ave from 22nd to 24th streets. Ticket prices for the weekend range from $15 to $50. For more information, visit wynwoodlife.com.