Terminals turned into galleries at Miami International Airport

35 different projects happening at once inside terminals, officials say

MIAMI - The large-scale installations could be at Art Basel; the bold paintings are reminiscent of Wynwood Walls.

But they're not just for the gallery-hopper or art enthusiast to see. Instead, they are works inside Miami International Airport.

The work competes with advertising for wall space, as well as for the attention of wary travelers in one of the country's busiest airports

Dr. Yolanda Sanchez, director of Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs at Miami International Airport, has been curating art for the airport for 20 years. She credits good PR and savvy artists for bringing more attention to the art hanging from the walls and ceilings, and built into the floor.

According to airport officials, there are at least 35 different projects happening at once inside the terminals.

Sanchez said her department works on a "shoestring budget" compared with galleries and museums, so much of the work is from up-and-coming artists in South Florida.

Inside Terminal D, where moving walkways converge, is the newest mural, called "Meltdown," by Miami-born artist Jen Stark.

"We wanted to do something here that really enlivened the space. As you can see just standing here a couple of minutes all of the people coming through here," Sanchez said.

On the phone, Stark said it was her first time ever making public art in an airport.

"When I first saw the space they had in mind, I think they were expecting me to propose something just on the walls," she said. But she soon realized they wanted to cover everything, including the ceiling, with bright colors.

"I wanted to have the audience immersed in the artwork," she said.

For Sanchez, curating for an airport is a different job than curating for a gallery.

"We have to be very careful what we put up. In the case of Jen Stark we built into her fee, if you will, that she would come back once a year to spruce up the exhibit because we even saw people touching it as we were standing there," Sanchez said.

Miami resident Bertha Rojas said she was familiar with Stark's work and came to the airport just to snap photos of the mural with her phone.

"It's wonderful -- the culture that it's bringing even to the airport as well," Rojas said.

Just inside Terminal D, there were paintings of the Everglades, giant mixed-medium works and vintage photography.

Artist Mario Bencomo, who makes poetry-inspired art, was measuring space for an upcoming exhibit. He said he was excited about the possibility of travelers from around the world seeing his art.

"When the opportunity came up to show here I immediately thought -- I have to work for this project," he said.

For more information on Miami International Airport's art and exhibitions, click here.

Click here to see more of Jen Stark's work.

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