Art Goes West by Antoine Martin

Allapattah is a district of Miami located in the west of Miami between the airport and Wynwood. A center of Hip-Hop culture and "Graffiti" in particular.

Allapattah is a district of Miami located in the west of Miami between the airport and Wynwood. A center of Hip-Hop culture and “Graffiti” in particular. This district undergoes, through of some of its inhabitants like Fabian Martinez and its community “Esquina de Abuela”, a profound transformation.

If you hear about art in Miami, the name “Wynwood” comes first. This working-class neighborhood with African-American, Haitian or Cuban populations, who had the highest rate of unemployment and crime in the 1970s, has become a flagship of street art since promoter Tony Goldman invested there during the 2000s, inviting graffiti artists to express themselves on the walls of its buildings. Veritable open-air museums: the WynwoodWalls. With the exception of the promoter’s visit, Allapattah has lived the same story and is already foreshadowing itself as the new Eldorado of the “Graff” world. The person behind this promise is Fabian Martinez, owner of “Esquina de Abuela”.

Fabian inherited this place after the death of his grandmother, a Cuban whoman who fled her island after fighting alongside Fidel Castro and then against him. The soul of this exceptional woman still lives on the walls of the house and has even been immortalized on one of them.

It was in 2016 that the young man left his real estate profession to revive his grandmother’s house, in order to make it a moving art gallery, a place of sharing for artists from around the world. (for whom he will play the role of managing the time of the journey) but also a lung for his community … Last December when Art Basel was in full swing, he welcomed: graffiti artists of multiple nationalities, notably the Swiss Sèyo, pioneer of the discipline in Europe; but also Ignacio, a homeless man that Fabian took under his wing and with whom he exchanges help in the house for a roof and food, or James, a childhood friend recently released from prison and resident of “Esquina de Abuela” the time of a new start under the exclusive condition of not succumbing to his old demons.

Drawing a parallel between Fabian and Tony Goldman would be easy with regard to their respective love of urban art and their appetite for real estate. Yet their philosophy is diametrically opposed. Fabian is from Allapattah and has known this area since he was a child. He does not wish to “gentrify” his home, but to develop it with his community. The idea is to develop an artistic community that connecting people to places and each other. Rather than attracting outside businesses as seen in Wynwood, he wants to develop with the art culture.

Fabian does not want to make Allapattah an amusement park for tourists, or rather preserve its soul to benefit its inhabitants.

As a visitor, we are only passing guests of the walls of “La Esquina de Abuela” intended not to drag on. We are like the graffiti that is exposed in the house, then disappears replaced by new works. “Esquina de Abuela” is not a “our home” but a “their home” where they welcome us. [Official Website]

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