January 30 2011
Just when I was beginning to go off Miami (South Beach simply isn’t as cool as it used to be), I acted on a tip and booked a table for lunch at Joey’s, in an area called Wynwood. Never heard of it? You will.
The former shoe district, across the MacArthur Causeway in a backwater of north Miami, Wynwood has emerged as USA art central: bolder than Le Marais and funkier than Hoxton. America’s biggest money-spinning art fair, Art Basel Miami Beach, is to be held there this December (1-4). It’s über-cool, and here you’ll find some of the best food in the city.
In less than a decade the windowless single-storey factories that line Wynwood’s parched avenues have been converted into galleries. Seventy in all, ranging from the edgy Bakehouse Art Complex, where local artists get facilities at knockdown rents, right up to the vast Don and Mera Rubell collection within a former drug enforcement building, where, alongside huge installation pieces, are works by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
Joey’s doesn’t disappoint. Next door to Wynwood Walls – a sort of dynamic mural art park – it’s a genuine Italian trattoria run with an easy efficiency by Joey Goldman. The skinny wood-baked pizzas are the best I’ve eaten since Venice (Italy, not California).
During the day Wynwood feels oddly deserted. At night – especially during “Art Walk” every second Saturday, when galleries open their doors for art, music and fun – it comes alive. The galleries spill on to the streets, deals are brokered in the newly opened Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, and Miami’s arterati enjoy a sub-tropical promenade.
So, who needs Ocean Drive when the sun goes down on Wynwood?