By D. Channing Muller Posted May 13, 2009, 12:28 PM EDT
New York-based photographers Karla and James Murray partnered with Miami arts collective T.E. Projects to host a graffiti-infused street festival for the launch of the couple’s new book, Miami Graffiti, which chronicles the city's underground graffiti scene. The Saturday event brought more than 1,000 musicians, local families, and artists of various disciplines—painters, graffiti artists, photographers—to an open lot in Miami’s Wynwood arts district.
Last year the arts collective held its first urban street fair, entitled “True Elements: A Unity Celebration of All the Elements,” attracting roughly 500 people. After meeting the Murrays while they explored the underground graffiti art scene for their book, the four-man collective decided to combine the book’s launch and their second annual event, adding dance competitions and live music to the format.
“We loved and respected what they were doing for the city and [graffiti] scene so much that we thought it would be only logical to have them be a part of the event,” said Johnny Robles, one of the event coordinators from T.E. Projects.
Robles and his partners divided the lot’s three surrounding walls into 30-foot increments, where nearly 100 graffiti artists—including Ocho Placas Tattoos' artists who got their start doing graffiti—painted murals throughout the day. Sharpie sponsored the tent where the Murrays sold and signed copies of their book.
The collective reached out to the Miami break-dancers, the Heart Breakerz Crew, to help bring the dancing community to the event. Two dance competitions took place during the day: the Bonnie & Clyde and Freshest Kids Battles. The former pitted coed pairs against one another in a dance-off, with the winner taking home $500. The latter invited kids younger than 12 years of age to test their skills against one another for a $100 prize. Contestants could register on site or in advance via phone or email; flyers and Evites sent out during the weeks prior to the event included the contact information.
T.E. Projects sold hot dogs, hamburgers, and other festival-style fare. Sponsors VitaminWater and Colt45 beer provided drink stands. Hip-hop and urban bands, DJs, and other musical ensembles performed until the event wrapped up around 8 p.m.