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Pre-Art Basel: Overlooked Area Of Downtown Miami Transformed Into Street Art Gallery

The Omni Parkwest Redevelopment Association (O.P.R.A.) is collaborating with Kelly "RISK" Graval of Risk Rock Studios, Los Angeles to transform ten buildings in a blighted section of downtown Miami into a street art gallery.

O.P.R.A. is the non-profit organization behind Miami’s innovative Grand Central park project. Kelly, or "RISK" as he is known in the street art community, has been "Beautifully Destroying" neglected buildings for years in Los Angeles. He is widely regarded as one of the godfathers of the west coast street art movement. 

Mark Lesniak, O.P.R.A. director, has been working along with other instrumental figures like RISK to make this project possible along with the cooperation of neighborhood business and property owners.  The select buildings from the Parkwest area are unique in the sense that they can be seen from the 836 expressway, as well as the Metro Movers that crisscross the area.

In addition to RISK, the murals will feature new works by renowned street artists such as Shepard Fairey, How and Nosm, and Gregory Siff.  

“Our goal with this project is to make a statement that downtown Miami is a destination for a diverse arts and entertainment experience that is unique and up-and-coming,” explains Lesniak.

Miami Worldcenter is just one of the property contributors, allowing artists to express themselves rent-free on a platform of 25, 000 square feet.  MetroONE Properties have also sponsored a mural for the O.P.R.A. project, which will cover more than 50,000 square feet of walls in Downtown Miami.


RISK says, "“I wanted to bring color to the streetscape – lots of it. It changes people’s behavior, how they view [and] treat their environment.” 

On Friday afternoon, Shepard Fairey was just getting started painting his massive mural on NE 13 Terrace and 1st Ave. in downtown Miami. 

Just a few minutes north of this wall, Fairey has a now iconic collection of murals at Wynwood Walls in the Miami neighborhood Wynwood.  We asked him what he thought about taking on such a massive wall in an area that isn’t particularly known for it’s art scene.

"I'm glad to be doing stuff outside of Wynwood.. There's just so much competition for your attention there, and the thing that's cool about doing it [in Parkwest] is that it stands out as different in the neighborhood, and also this is a great, really big wall, and you can see it from far away, so it's something that's hard to miss if you're driving around here," says Fairey. 

As far as his feeling on being brought on board for this forward-thinking initiative, Fairey was appreciative of the willingness of property owners and organizers coming together to bring art into new terrain. “Sometimes the biggest challenge isn't doing the walls, it's just getting the walls." He said.

This ambitious project plans to provide a more vibrant atmosphere in hopes of an evolutionary turn for the downtown Miami area.