Last week, the urban-artsy community of Wynwood took center stage as Art Baselers came to experience Miami's creative class. Among the popular stops were a series of public walls, given over to artists to showcase their work.
But perhaps the original "Wynwood Wall" was commissioned years ago when hipster hangout The Vagabond opened its doors. The blue-gray-hued mural, which features a quote by Henry David Thoreau ("The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it"), is the work of local artist Gerry Stecca, and has become a symbol of Wynwood's independent, creative spirit.
It should have been a time for visitors to admire Stecca's work. Instead, Wednesday, as many galleries and art fairs were putting the finishing touches on their exhibits and getting ready to welcome the Basel masses, Vagabond owner Carmel Ophir learned that Stacco's mural had been vandalized with the words "F**k Basel" tagged in black.
"It was crushing," Ophir recalled. "Not for me, but I was upset for Gerry."
Stecca said that when he learned about the incident, he was surprised.
"Rarely do you have someone vandalizing what is art," Stecca said. "And, it wasn't even creative." Stacco said that all they had to do was make a phone call and they would have been given a wall to showcase their message.
"If you want to make a statement, do it on a trash can or a sidewalk - don't do it on someone's private property," Ophir said.
Ophir thinks the culprits aren't local, but rather part of a tagging crew out of New York called Irak who came down with the intent to ink their message in several places. He said he has tremendous respect for graffiti artists and what they do, but not when they're being destructive, especially to someone else's art.
Stecca, who said he has good friends in the neighborhood who are graffiti artists, said that if anything good came out of the incident, it was the reaction from the community.
"They showed that they cared more than I thought," recalled Stecca, who said he plans on fixing the mural sometime this week.
"I knew I could fix it," he said matter-of-factly. "It will come back."