Tony Goldman: The Wynwood Art District Pioneer

Tony Goldman Graffiti Portrait in Wynwood

One of the greatest public art works of this century, Wynwood Walls, in the Warehouse District of Miami, has become a Mecca for art collectors, and connoisseurs the world over. The project wasn’t conceived by an art collector or even an artist, but by a real estate developer—Tony Goldman.

“My father was a visionary,” his daughter Jessica Goldman Srebnick said.

Goldman started his remarkable career in the 1960s when he bought a block of buildings on New York’s Upper West Side because, although the neighborhood was drug ridden and rundown at the time, the architecture was beautiful. He renovated the buildings, moved in businesses, and the neighborhood soon changed. Goldman repeated this tactic in Soho and the Financial District before heading south to Miami.

Goldman saw the Wynwood area of Miami—which was, up until 2009, an urban blight on the sun-filled landscape—as full of promise. He snapped up 30 buildings (mostly warehouses and garages), and keeping in the spirit of the graffiti that covered the area, turned the neighborhood into a street art mecca.

“People had never even heard of this area two or three years ago,” Jessica told us. “My father created a vision for the neighborhood and then the creative classes wanted to be here and moved in.” Goldman brought in the foremost graffiti artists to cover the walls.

Already seen it? You should stop by again. The walls change every year or two.

“We like to keep it fresh,” Jessica said. “Always changing.” Artist Peter Tunney, who is in residence at Wynwood, added, “It’s not graffiti anymore, it is now high level art. Tony gave respect to the (graffiti) community and they gave it back.” We couldn’t agree more.

Courtesy of Paula Froelich

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