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Para Mi Gente

Every year in December, coinciding with SCOPE Art, the creme de la creme of the urban art movement gather in Miami to paint large scale murals in the Wynwood District. Primary Flight is one of our favorite events, but last year it suffered from some growing pains. We have supported the event since it launched and watched as it has gained attention as every year it involves more artists and more walls.

As Harlan Levey explains: “Wynwood has new businesses and all the first signs of gentrification while Art Basel Miami week can now be expected to also showcase art that isn’t for sale. Fantastic at first sight. But, increase in size and sponsorship deals did not see better treatment towards artists. Most come to participate on their own costs- they basically pay themselves a vacation in Miami when the whole art world is down there and spend more time painting with friends than shopping or playing Baywatch. It’s beautiful, until they start to feel taken advantage of.”

Primary Flight 2010_2 from ENDmedia on Vimeo.

Usually when we pal around with those in the event or send out requests for images afterwards, there is positive energy that seems to pour out of the event.

Not last year …

We mailed to over a dozen artists and there wasn’t one who had a positive or interesting thing to say about the event. Several said they were so disgusted they would prefer not to comment.

But … forget the people the event is about – the ones who put their love into it …

Levey goes on explaining: “They might be pissed off or feel mistreated, but the event will surely get bigger for a year or two anyway. Organizers will have a chance to sort their growing pains and Wynwood residents will probably be satisfied with their gifts. Its just funny what lies things often become when they are successful.

“These lies result in fat pockets, million dollar key chains and a new set of historians who haven’t a clue what they’re talking about.

“Exit through the Giftshop indeed – sad and beautiful, but who cares? Street art is so cool. We guess that’s why in Primary Flight 3 Mountain Dew was branded all over the event.”

But we hope that bygones will be bygones and want to focus on the positive side and possibilities Primary Flight has to offer.

Part of last years grow was the Primary Projects space in the Miami Design District. Slated to coincide with Second Saturday Art Walk from March 12 to April, 2011, their upcoming show Para Mi Gente is Primary Flight’s sophomore exhibition at its 4,500-square-foot Primary Projects space. The exhibit is free and open to the public, and will be on view through April 2011.

They say: “Primary Flight interprets the designs and concepts of more than 50 local and international artists in Para Mi Gente, an exhibition inspired by the Chicha poster art of Peru. Translated as “for the people,” Para Mi Gente merges traditional Peruvian propaganda, contemporary art and graphic-driven installations. Participating artists such as Shepard Fairey, Tristan Eaton and gallerist Fred Snitzer have provided Primary Flight with vector images that will be cut into stencils and collaged together to generate one, fluid Chicha-style piece. This show is co-curated by Books IIII Bischof, Typoe and Chris Oh.

“The Chicha poster art movement has largely been attributed to the Urcuhuaranga family in Lima, Peru. Unable to afford the cost of printing their own posters to promote local Chicha-music bands, father and sons conceived a homegrown press as a do-it-yourself solution. Vibrant embroideries and Huanca textiles native to the Andean region inspired their fluorescent palette, while distorted fonts and logos emerged to fit increasingly more information onto the posters.

“The visual output of Chicha art resembles a burst of luminescent lettering, mismatched in size, style and proportion – a vibrant puzzle of information. Since its inception in the 1990’s, the genre has grown exponentially to reflect popular culture as a leading marketing tool publicizing the now prevalent Cumbia music scene.”

“Chicha is one of the most basic yet effective propaganda styles and has emerged as an art form in its own right,” said Books Bischof, principal of Primary Flight / Primary Projects. “So much of our culture involves integrating text and altering typography to fit into our overall brand aesthetic. Para Mi Gente allows us to take control of our mass marketed environment while we work with tools provided by contemporary artists.”

Para Mi Gente will be an installation of hundreds of artist-designed logos, texts and icons, collectively arranged and curated in the Chicha aesthetic. As the street mural movement rapidly evolves in Miami, Primary Flight art collective looks toward grassroots Peruvian propaganda to inspire its latest fine arts exhibit.

(Creative Review cover by Tristan Manco)


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