Date of Award

Spring 3-28-2014

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Stephen Pascher


The aim of this paper is to examine the role that street art and the artist plays in the gentrification of a city, with a specific focus on Miami’s Wynwood Arts District. By doing so, the thesis will first address the artistic practice of graffiti writing as an underlying influence to artists working on the streets today. ‘Post-graffiti’, ‘urban painting’ or simply ‘street art’ exists as a new term in the graffiti literature to identify a renaissance of illicit, ephemeral public art productions[1]. Artists play a critical role in the gentrifying process as they help revitalize areas of past stagnation. In this paper, the process relies on the establishment of an arts center, this coincides with the studies of gentrification to understand how urban cities are rebuilt; the study focuses on two schools of thought; production and consumption side theories. The inception of loft buildings paved the way for artists’ to use loft-style accommodations for joint living and working spaces as a way to sell their art, and introduce the artists’ studio to the public. This trend has revolutionized a new mode of city living that continues to thrive to this day. Today, there are several major investments taking place in constructing new cultural facilities for the arts. Miami is a center for creativity, from contemporary art, to design, architecture and the performing arts. The successful merger between a handful of Miami art collectors in convincing the directors of Art Basel, the largest art fair in the world, to locate a second fair in Miami Beach radically changed the fate of the city. The impact of Art Basel Miami Beach and the Wynwood Arts District, with the combined efforts of artists, gallery owners and developers, has successfully transformed Miami into a mecca for the arts.

[1] Anna Waclawek, Graffiti and Street Art, (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2011), 20.