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Wynwood Blares Miami's Booty-Bass Past From The Boombox Building Near I-95

Lizzie Easton

 Wynwood is Miami’s gritty art safari. On the edge of Overtown and downtown, this neighborhood beckons crews of artists – local and international -- who come here to paint wild and stunning designs on decrepit walls.

With each spray can and paint roller, street artists spawned a new life to the district’s 30 or so blocks.

But if these walls could talk, no wall would speak to 305 pride better than the Boombox.

Facing I-95 from Wynwood's west end on Northwest Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street, the Boombox mural is prime real estate in terms of street-art visibility. And it has occupied that space for three years, exponentially longer than most pieces last in the neighborhood.

In 2010, street-art "gallery" Primary Flight asked Argentine artist Sonnito transform what was then an abandoned building. Sonni considered painting the building as a camera because of its rectangular shape, but changed his mind, drawing inspiration from Miami's music scene.

“I made a boombox because of the shape of the building, and I think Miami is a musical city,” he says.

Credit Andrea Richard
Artist Sonni painting his latest mural December 2, 2013.

He completed the mural in his cute-cartoon style, using primary colors, in time for Art Basel 2010. But the following December, someone painted an advertisement over the entire façade. Sonni was asked if he wanted to revive his creation, but opted not to.

“When I finish a project, I’m finished and want to move onto something new. I have so many ideas,” he explains.

In the months following Basel 2012, Miamians began to miss seeing the Boombox, especially local artist Trek 6. He had never met Sonni, but the Argentine's boombox resonated with him, evoking memories of his younger days during the heyday of Miami booty-bass scene.

Since Sonni had moved on, Trek 6 sought to bring the nascent landmark back to Miami.

In March 2012, Trek 6 asked his artist friend Chor Boogie to help him paint it back. Chor Boogie, a prominent street artist from San Francisco -- he's sold a piece for 500,000 Euros -- was in town painting the Miami-Dade County Fair’s entrance wall. He and Trek 6 agreed to collaborate and a week later began spraying the old Boombox building with a silver-metallic base.  

Credit Flickr: dusty_pen
Sonni boombox circa 2011

“The idea was genius and I can never take it away from Sonni,” says Trek 6. “I saw it get painted over while I was painting a wall nearby [in Dec. 2011]. Around here, walls last for about a year until someone tags or changes them. The boombox concept is really Miami and nostalgic for many of us who grew up on booty bass. That’s why we kept it.”

Although wall art has a short lifespan, Trek 6 intends to keep the boombox around as long as possible. He’s maintained it since his collaboration with Chor Boogie, and through this year’s Art Basel. The Californian came to Miami to help freshen it up with new paint, because the sun had bleached its vivid colors and random graffiti had appeared.

Credit Lizzie Easton
March 2012, artists Chor Boogie and Trek 6 revamped the defaced boom box building.

Trek 6 enlisted local artists to paint on the building's sides and back. They added knobs and erected an antenna and handle on top to give it a more realistic effect.

“Many of the walls in Wynwood were painted by artists from out of town. There’s a disconnect between the locals and them. I just met Sonni for the first time this week. He gave me a hug and we hung out. He’s an awesome guy,” Trek 6 says, discrediting any bad-blood rumors between them.

“Wynwood  is a small dot on the map,” he says. “The boombox faces I-95, so it doesn’t just speak to Wynwood, but to everyone in the Miami community. It’s a dialogue with the community and that's something I want to capture in all of my work.”