Art has become more prevalent than ever in the hip-hop community in recent years, especially with hip-hop royalty like Swiss Beatz, Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs, and Jay Z stepping into the realm of art curation and collecting, the culture has taken notice and followed suit. And with art installations popping up throughout the streets and becoming highly popularized, more township officials are allowing artists to use the city as their canvas. And in the midst of Miami’s Design District, located at the cross streets of NE First Avenue and NE 41st Street stands a seven-story parking structure that isn’t just a location to temporary house over 800 vehicles but, a piece of forever transforming and living art notoriously known as the Garage Museum.
Art collector and real estate developer, Craig Robins, initiated the development of the design district, located north of downtown Miami, and called upon Terence Riley of design firm Keenen/Riley to curate a series of exterior facades to transform the structure into its own lively piece of art.
With K/R officially on the job, Riley took the unconventional approach of reaching out to several other well-known design firms to participate in a historical surrealist parlor game known as Exquisite Corpse originally known by its French translation, ‘Cadavre Exquis’. Riley explained the process in a public statement saying the following,
“Cadavre Exquis as the game is known in French, involved a collection of images assembled by various artists with no knowledge of what the other artists have drawn, producing one image whose components don’t necessarily match but flow together as one playful composition.”
K/R called upon five separate design teams including, Berlin design practice, J Mayer H, New York-based firm, WORKac, the Spanish design organization, Clavel Arquitectos, and French artist, Nicolas Buffe, providing each collective with the freedom to do as they wish with their portion of the facade thus creating an exterior contrasting pieces of art that will draw the eyes of patrons who come across it. [Genius.]
Keenen/Riley is responsible for the piece facing the Institute of Contemporary Art [ICA] entitled ‘Barrier’ inspired by United States traffic barriers as sheets of orange and white striped sheets of metal cover their portion of the collective art display, some of which happen to be perforated. Concrete blocks can also be seen protruding out of the side of the notorious structure as well.
The team of designers at J Mayer H constructed a facade entitled, ‘XOX (Hugs & Kisses’ which features fluid, curvaceous, interlocking panels some of which are dressed in stripes and vivid hues mimicking pieces to a puzzle that wrap around one corner of the popularized Garage Museum.
New York’s WORKac design collective went in a more simplistic yet perplexing direction with their portion of the structure inspired by the aesthetic of an ant farm. The outside of the facade is covered in transparent metal sheets, huge cut-out gaps and rings expose the rich pink tone of the overall structure while providing the interior buildings with views of the outside scenery. A graphic of a hand reaching into a body of water for a bowling ball oddly sits at the center of WORKac’s artistic offering.
The Spanish design team at Clavel Arquitectos took on an unorthodox approach of expressing the city of Miami’s notorious traffic in a piece entitled ‘Urban Jam’. 45 vehicle spaceframes, some of which mimic classic automobile models while others take on a futuristic aesthetic dressed in monochromatic hues of metallic silver and gold. The architects/designers explained their inspiration in a statement saying,
“Urban Jam draws from the rebirth of urban life in the Miami Design District – where old structures and discarded spaces have been revived by architectural and urban designs.”
Last but not least, French artist, Nicolas Buffe curated a series of contrasting black and white Japanese anime-inspired graphics constructed out of laser-cut metal and fiber-resin plastic including a multitude of different inanimate objects taking on anthropomorphism characteristics. From overzealous stars to smiling clouds, and happily expressive decorative shelves, everything is alive on this particular portion of the structure. Animated dragons, gargoyles, caryatids, and a multitude of other personified animals can be found throughout the facade. Also, four stone-carved 23-foot tall sculptures stand at the entrance of the structure.
The artistic statements of each portion of the exterior structure differ in so many ways but make one complete fluid sensation that we personally couldn’t fathom without one piece of art flowing into the next the way it does now. Not to mention, Miami’s Garage Museum not only functions as a regular parking structure but also is lined with ground-level retail businesses as well.
If more government officials and city planners were open to allowing more public spaces to become canvases for artistic expression, not only would the environment of the world we live in become more aesthetically-pleasing it would provide artists and designers with more opportunity to create and inspire others to express themselves through more creative outlets.
Photos by Miguel de Guzmán