MIA: The Heineken Bike Adventure
The Heineken Bike Station has been ferrying art lovers all over Miami for all of Art Basel. Our Writer, Mayling Ganuza, was lucky enough to take the trip. Here is her tale.
It’s the first week of December and, while the rest of the country is bundled up, we were set loose in a subtropical labyrinth of art, Wynwood MIA.
The streets are saturated with graffiti and behind every fence, around every corner, someone is creating a piece. Photographers mill around, feeding Instagram steady streams of street art.
With so much to see, Biff and I head out to find the Heineken Bike Station at Wood Tavern. We walk north on 2nd Avenue and cannot avoid being drawn into Wynwood Walls. We bump into Yuki and her girls who have designated Shepard Fairey’s wall in the immense courtyard as the standard meeting point. We chat for a bit and say “what up” to people left and right, but we’ve got to dip. The sun is setting and there is probably only an hour of sunlight left to cover over 30 blocks of concrete canvas.
The bike rack in front of Wood is impossible to miss. The Tuesday night choppers have been replaced by two dozen cruiser bicycles. I grab a bike and in the basket I find a fat Sharpie red extra bold point that made me wonder who else was riding and writing on these wheels.
Now let me warn you, the bike is heavier than your standard Huffy and it handles like a ’78 Monte Carlo. So you won’t be able to pop wheelies like the neighborhood kids stuntin’ on the street. But it’s a cruiser, so on we cruise.
We turn off the main drag and ride toward North Miami Avenue. Other cyclists with colorful streamers criss-cross the lanes. The road is empty, but the walls are full of surrealist DIY pop art. There are dismembered animals, bursts of blue and green waves, and profiles of beautiful women. We coast on a mellow vibe until we approach a busy intersection and an older gentleman in a top hat almost runs into a car.
Welcome to Miami. The traffic is backed up heading north towards the glitzy art fair tents and I catch glimpses of bored faces staring out of luxury cars.
We scope Don Rimx’s piece on 29th and North Miami Avenue before heading southwest toward Prime, Estria, and Trek 6’s evolving façade. The cars are double parked and we slowly ride between stacked cans of aerosol paint and risers, when Yesenia comes out of nowhere. “Yo! Have you seen the wall?! No te lo pierdas!” She leads us up to a mural of a vibrant green Hawaiian landscape. A giant fiery eyeball pierces space on one end; two regal portraits flank the other. The artists, Estria and Prime, focused on finishing as much as they could while there was still sunlight.
Night was settling in, so we made a break for Chor Boogie’s mural. We go down NW 26th street, also known as the “Wall of Fame,” to see the patchwork of complex pieces and throw-ups along this corridor of aerosol art. As we ride past, a few artists quickly bomb with color and form. Then we come to a perpendicular wall on which two beings burst from a creative core. Chor Boogie is standing 100 meters from his work, sparring words with a suited up art critic.
Away from the chaos and carnivalia, we are enveloped in a heavy silence. Jets fly overhead and mosquitos buzz in your ear. Noxious fumes of aerosol perfume the air.
We lingered and took a few pictures, but our bike rental time was almost up. We rode east on 23rd street back towards the party, but here, away from the noise, is the real Wynwood–the working class hub of Puerto Rican immigrants. It’s dark, quiet, and desolate.
And then we heard the bass. The beats got heavier and louder and it was not hard to find the Heineken Artist Hub. The turntables were out and speakers boomed above the crowd in the street. Everyone had a Heineken in hand, but us. We got there too late.
The scene was getting ridiculous. A mechanical lady bug drove past blasting house music. Venezuelan skaters were weaving through crawling traffic. Girls in impossibly high shoes tried not to trip on each other. We pushed through the masses in front of Wood Tavern and finally locked up the bikes with a minute to spare.
And then the marching band arrived.