Miami is the magic city because it is constantly changing, morphing, reinventing itself and attracting people who long to do the same, either because of political and/or economic strife and instability or because the sunshine, sand and surf lured them here.
The latest change to the landscape, as Miami — and its tastes — continue to grow up, is a concentration on art, culture and good food. Ever since Art Basel first came to Miami Beach in 2002, art galleries, museums and public art installments have flourished throughout the city.
Nowhere is that more evident than Wynwood, the once blighted area north of Downtown Miami. Today, it is a mecca to art lovers, tourists, and those eager to be a part of the latest trend.
Wynwood is one of those places that is thriving and suffering for the same reason: it’s the new hot spot. And in Miami, when something becomes cool, it gets inundated. That commercialization, some fear, will change what made the area special: it’s authenticity. (Watch: Wynwood, the Mecca of Art a short film that my students filmed and produced.)
That may be; but, as I walked the streets there today, as the first Basel tourists began to trickle into the city, I was happy to enjoy an amazing cup of Panther coffee, which roasts all of their beans in-house and brew coffee to order. This attention to quality and detail produces an amazing product. And Panther Coffee is well-known for their fair and responsible trade and sourcing practices.
No, this isn’t for everyone. Plenty of people scoff at the long line, the cramped quarters. Many will surely argue that coffee is coffee is coffee. And I am certain that many of today’s patrons were there for the novelty, the hype, the cool factor.
But, so what?
Walking the streets, people were everywhere. They were admiring the murals, photographing, and watching artists work, many of them with young children in tow.
So maybe Wynwood is a Hipster haven, and maybe it is incredibly ironic that this area that attracted artists specifically because it was affordable is now a hot piece of real estate that becomes more mainstream every day. But it is home to great restaurants that focus on good, fresh and locally sourced foods. There is art everywhere and people who just a few years ago avoided this part of Miami, now show it off to friends visiting from out of town.
So if the Hipsters change Miami for the better — forcing us to focus on art and culture, making us think a little more about ingredients — if only because it’s cool and trendy, I welcome them.