Miami Mural Extravaganza

New book highlights Miami's street art

A buzz spread around Miami last November, everyone was talking about the North Miami murals depicting Obama’s face. Plastered around town, these were genuine eye catchers. Sure, Obama’s image in Miami’s underserved neighborhoods symbolized an important social and political moment but they also brought attention to the the art of the mural, one that is often looked upon through car windows, but not properly respected as a form of communication and creativity.

Two local artists, Jen Stark and Alvaro Ilizarbe, have always been drawn to these public paintings. Posted on the sides of inner-city buildings, their often literal depictions grab attention and describe clearly what the businesses inside have to offer.

Their admiration culminated in the creation of a book documenting murals around Miami through photography, titled Mural Madness Extravaganza. Attracted to their honesty, imperfections and amateur quality, Stark and Ilizarbe capture, “the artists’ interpretation of the subject which they paint.” A task they address with passion and sensitivity.

The two artists took a DIY approach to the project, self-publishing and even going so far as to contact one of their favorite local muralists, $erge, whose talent has made him one of the most popular painters in his niche. A recent interview with $erge drew our attention to this project. Although his gift has brought him opportunities to gain wider recognition, he prefers to remain local and true to his craft.

Mural Madness Extravaganza has many photographs from the Little Haiti area, but also includes depictions of services rendered, santos, community messages and products for sale from all over the county.

According to Stark and Ilizarbe, “We're just glad we actually captured a moment in time for Miami's vast culture.”

One hundred limited edition copies were produced and are available at Sweat Records, O.H.W.O.W. and in Chicago at Quimby’s Bookstore. Jen and Alvaro are both amazingly talented artists whose shows you should watch out for and definitely attend.

For more of Liz Tracy's Miami missives, visit her blog, Miami, bro.

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