Britto’s Wynwood gallery deflowered by graffiti

By | June 11th, 2012 | 23 Comments

Public art by Romero Britto, the artist most identified with Miami around the world, is a frequent and easy target for graffiti bombers. His “Beach Ball” in Miami Shores, a sculpture sporting Britto’s trademark bright colors and pop-art patterns, got the treatment last June when some blunt vandal scrawled the words “Not Art” across it with red spray paint. Then, in July of 2011, someone — maybe the same someone — tagged the same sculpture with the words “Meaningless Bliss” and “error”.

Britto Central in Wynwood vandalized

The latest: This past Saturday, the day of Second Saturdays Art Walk, someone who apparently goes by the name “C Dog” tagged Britto’s new Wynwood space, at 146 N.W. 25th Street, in huge white letters (photo via Yo Miami).

Update: This photo by @305creative (shared via Instagram) shows that Britto (or an assistant or two) painted over C Dog’s scrawl with a burst of color, sunny imagery, and a bit of advice: “Make Art Not War”.

'Britto Fights Back' by @305creative

As is usual when anything Britto gets vandalized, some people are applauding the vandal (“Thats what he gets for covering the murals that were done during Basel”) while others, including some Britto crtics, are condemning the illegal expression of contempt for an artist who many consider a paint-by-numbers hack, an opportunist, and/or an ersatz ambassador of Miami creativity.

Where many find agreement is that this was bound to happen, that it was “only a matter of time” before Britto’s Wynwood location got “bombed”. In a neighborhood that is home to many art galleries and many street murals, many of them commissioned works, a few questions arise:

Is uncommissioned graffiti an appropriate expression of criticism against an artist just because lots of people feel an aversion toward him and his work? Is uncommissioned graffiti — i.e., illegal graffiti — appropriate period? Is “legal graffiti” an oxymoron and, if so, does Britto’s flower-studded wall deserve to be vandalized more than any of the commissioned murals in Wynwood, which are offensive to some old-school graffiti artists who feel their beloved art form has been co-opted by property owners looking to cash in on the “urban aesthetic”?

Yes, these questions have the stench of the rhetorical, but you can dispel it by leaving a response or introducing new questions in the comment section.

Britto’s Wynwood space deflowered with graffiti

Many expected this to happen, but the latest act of animosity-fueled vandalization of a Romero Britto landmark in Miami raises the question: Is this just deserts for an art opportunist or an act of juvenile delinquency deserving of condemnation?

Storified by Jordan Melnick · Mon, Jun 11 2012 16:25:13

Comment on Instagram: “You ask any artist in Miami if they would be willing to ‘sell out’ (brand themselves like Britto does, for the exchange of major success (money), they all secretly would say ‘hell yeah’.” — @artofmiami
@beachedmiami @faden2blackpicks well.. its not like pissing off business owners and dissing other artists is a new thing for graffiti.Michael Montuori
@beachedmiami @dorschgallery @LestersMiami @GalleryDiet @panthercoffee @WoodTavern It’s hateful.Verena Faden
Agree. “@WoodTavern: @beachedmiami @dorschgallery @LestersMiami @panthercoffee Flat out wrong…Regardless of your opinion of Britto.”Craig Chester
@BillyCorben @BeachedMiami The problem here is the tacky people who continue to commission Brito’s work and make him think he is an artist.shantelle rodriguez
@beachedmiami @dorschgallery @LestersMiami @GalleryDiet @panthercoffee Flat out wrong…Regardless of your opinion of Britto.Wood Tavern
@BillyCorben @BeachedMiami Romero was my neighbor for years and a good friend, many don’t know the charitable things he does for kidsLaundering Money
Truth! RT @dorschgallery: @BillyCorben @beachedmiami Wynwood is Safer than the 395 causewayJorge Fernandez
Comment on Facebook: “FYI: Britto is to Wynwood Walls what Banksy is to the modern day art gallery…the only difference being a commission money. I wonder if we’d have more respect for him if he’d gone on hiatus so he can “bomb” a few walls at Merrick Park or Midtown. Britto has paid his dues and owes no explanations why his definition of art means cartoonish flowers and smiling faces. What interests me the most is, who the f*ck is C-Dog and who asked for his two-cents???” — Richard Chinchilla
@beachedmiami The street decides. You earn your cred. #Britto hasn’t earned it, hasn’t tried.Alessandro Abate
@beachedmiami if #Britto can’t take the heat, he should get out of #Wynwood. He has many other venues for his “art”.Alessandro Abate
@sandro Who gets to decide street cred? There are plenty of galleries in Wynwood that lack street cred and probably don’t want any.Jordan Melnick
@beachedmiami Britto is an interloper. Aside from his work, he has no street cred & doesn’t belong in Wynwood.Alessandro Abate
Britto’s Wynwood gallery "bombed" over the weekend. Deserved or destructive? Read more at (photo via YOmiami)Jordan Melnick
politics of graffiti “@beachedmiami: Comment: "whats made wynwood safe IS the graffiti" Agree? #britto #wynwood #miami"Victor CASTRO
Comment on Facebook: “No publicity is bad publicity… I’m sure the Britto branding and PR people have an orgasm everytime another piece is vandalized.” — Johnny Saraiva
@BillyCorben @beachedmiami Wynwood is Safer than the 395 causewayBrook Dorsch
@beachedmiami Wynwood is safe???Billy Corben
Comment: "whats made wynwood safe IS the graffiti" Agree? #britto #wynwood #miami #graffitiJordan Melnick
@beachedmiami @LestersMiami @GalleryDiet @panthercoffee @WoodTavern hurts Wynwd businesses, the bad overshadows the good, brings us all downBrook Dorsch
Wynwood residents (@dorschgallery, @LestersMiami, @GalleryDiet, @panthercoffee, @WoodTavern), what say you? Melnick
Comment on Facebook: “I understand that people do not like the “disneyized” version of Britto, but as a person involved in arts education, I have to share that last week I received a phone call from a woman who organizes an elementary/middle school art program and annual gallery night (a program I had once organized myself) and for the first time, the group decided to teach a local artist rather than just the “masters.” I contacted the Britto store and they sent us lesson plans and other material without cost. By studying Britto, the students were able to identify with an artist and become excited about the art they produced. And, they had their most responsive and successful Gallery Night to date. Artists should read the ABN article on the advantages of artists licensing their work. It allows them to receive a nice income, give exposure to their work, and sustain future projects.” — Lisa Morales
The only thing uglier than Britto… RT @MiamiHerald Britto’s new #Wynwood space ‘bombed’ by graffiti Doyle Owens
Y E P RT @beachedmiami: Britto’s Wynwood gallered deflowered by graffiti. Ok with you? #miamiElizabeth Figueredo
Comment on Facebook: “Jealous punks…” — Timothy Brenden Stout
@beachedmiami Not surprised about Britto deflowered…esp in W’wood. Isn’t W’wood the antidote to Britto? Not condoning, just sayin.Gold Dust Lounge
As expected, Britto’s Wynwood gallery deflowered by graffiti. Is this just deserts for an art opportunist? #miamiJordan Melnick
Britto’s new #Wynwood space ‘bombed’ by graffiti Miami Herald
Britto’s Wynwood location "bombed"? #Miami Gabaldón

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23 Comments on “Britto’s Wynwood gallery deflowered by graffiti”

  1. 1 LT said at 1:50 am on June 11th, 2012:

    This vandalism is out of control I have worked in that area and was told by a source that when graffiti tagers are caught they think its ok and that’s what the business owners in the area want

  2. 2 Spearfish said at 9:38 am on June 11th, 2012:

    While I do not condone grafitti, anything would be an improvement painted on a building or elsewhere in comparison to Britto’s “art.”

  3. 3 Marcelo said at 9:58 am on June 11th, 2012:

    Kind of to be expected. Wynwood’s real attraction is the roughness around the edges. I’m sure Britto is not dying from it.

  4. 4 Jordan Melnick said at 10:37 am on June 11th, 2012:

    Marcelo, sure, Britto can easily absorb the financial impact, but he is not the only victim of vandalization by graffiti in the neighborhood. Panther Coffee got “bombed” in February. It hurt the cafe’s look and its bottom line. My point: illegal graffiti in Wynwood does not always hurt unpopular people/businesses.

  5. 5 mis information said at 11:19 am on June 11th, 2012:

    you guys do realize that the reason wynwood looks the way it does is because graffiti artists painted the walls? you also do realize that even the large scale legal works are done by artists who also do illegal works and are usually displayed side by side? 45% of the walls in wynwood are done without permission, the only reason you might not notice is because of the technique, this newest edition was in its most blatant, rawest form. whats made wynwood safe IS the graffiti, it creates an attraction so people want to move to the neighborhood. now im not here to argue apples and oranges, and i realize that im straying far from the actual article so let me trace my steps back. the mural was defaced but so have many murals in the neighborhood, why is this one so important? because of who its by, what its on and the attention it received when it was put up. something all of us know when we do “murals” is, everything is in a state of impermanence. moving onto the panther coffee mural, painted by barry mcgee, barry asked to have the mural run for only a limited amount if time, when refused to be covered, people took the proper steps to get that done.

  6. 6 theREDsubmarine said at 12:06 pm on June 11th, 2012:

    “Illegal” graffiti and street art are often some of our favorite pieces. One of the most recognizable street artists of our time, Banksy made his name by repeatedly committing crimes. I believe that the difference is intent, when you set out to “tag” are you doing it to deface something or are you trying to express yourself on something that happens to not be your property?

    As for the safety factor, I believe graffiti has a lot to do with it. However it was the vision of a developer, Tony Goldman who saw the value in street art in Wynwood and graffiti and utilized it to redevelop the area. By commissioning pieces and creating the Wynwood Walls, he created a standard for street art in the area and created an open, welcoming public space.

    Thus the recent success of Wynwood can’t be contributed entirely to graffiti. It is instead the vision of progressive developers. We need more of those in Miami, ASAP.

  7. 7 CrussellM said at 12:35 pm on June 11th, 2012:

    Part of the beauty of Wynwood is that it is always changing. No one is forcing Britto’s art to be here. It’s his choice to stay there, so he should deal with the consequences. Less we employ the fucking art police to dictate who can and cannot produced in the name of money.

  8. 8 Skip Van Cel said at 12:51 pm on June 11th, 2012:

    I have been documenting the constant and fluid state of graffiti in Wynwood for over 5 years. My personal favorites have nothing to do with any of the current stars, but the end result of the cat and mouse game played by building owner, tagged, code enforcement. The real question is who decides what is and what isn’t art. Goldman? Code Enforcement? Britto?

  9. 9 $un$h!n3 said at 4:34 pm on June 11th, 2012:

    i’m all for britto and i’m all for graffiti.
    but, this is what i think…
    it would’ve been a much more acceptable move if it had been artistic whatsoever.
    the fact is– it was not painted over, it was “bombed.”
    but, the bombing was absolutely ludicrous. honestly, it looks more like whoever did it got scared in the middle of it. it’s as jagged as the “artist’s” teeth probably are.
    there is nothing artistic about boring, loopy, white scribbles.
    if you’re gonna be all “street” & “tough” to hate on britto for not being a “real artist,” then PROVE YOUR WORTH.
    otherwise you’re just some punk who thinks he’s a big shot with nothing to back it up with.
    if you think you’re better than britto, prove it.
    so far, you’ve proven nothing but what a giant waste of time you are as a human being.
    if you’re gonna scrawl all over britto’s work, then maybe use some colors next time. black and white lettering is so pedestrian. maybe choose a composition. any composition. for example, you could’ve even incorporated the flowers into it. like painting more of them but they look like they’re wilting. i don’t know… just a suggestion.
    in the end, britto OWNS that wall. you don’t own shit. you can scrawl “cdog” or “gansta” or whatever lame ass street name you hide behind, but britto doesn’t need to do that to be successful.
    he uses his real name, his real face.
    maybe he uses his real assistants, but at least he has assistants.
    you, on the other hand, need assistance.

  10. 10 Duhleenuh said at 5:52 pm on June 11th, 2012:

    That kind of graffiti is so disrespectful I don’t care how much Britto sucks. That graffiti artist is mad immature. 

  11. 11 DawnaLee said at 7:55 pm on June 11th, 2012:

    Amen Sun!

  12. 12 Alex said at 11:51 pm on June 11th, 2012:

    britto belongs in macys home goods, not wynwood

  13. 13 Revulú said at 2:34 am on June 12th, 2012:

    It’s just meanspirited, tiny-penis syndrome. If these people had a nanofiber of talent they would be focused on doing their own thing and not thinking all day about Romero Britto. Punks are punks are punks.

  14. 14 Carlos said at 9:57 am on June 12th, 2012:

    Well said, Sunshine. I would add that the hatred of Romero Britto’s work appears most likely rooted in jealousy of his success. For all the haters who are too cool to like his work, there are many, many more people in Miami and around the world who do like it and are willing to pay money for it — whether on canvas or on a mug, a calendar, or whatever. I’m proud that an internationally recognized artist like Britto chooses to call Miami home. I don’t mind seeing his work in public places. I very much mind the defacement of public or private property — especially when its amateurishly done and in no way thought provoking, i.e., like this cdog loser.

  15. 15 Leah said at 7:25 am on June 13th, 2012:

    I can’t stand Britto’s work, but I think energy is better spent on the positive, like promoting and buying art from other (and superior) ambassadors of the Miami art scene.

  16. 16 Sophia Belatran said at 9:08 am on June 13th, 2012:

    Make “Art” not more meaningless Graphics. You got Britto, Lebo, and Miguel Paredes pimping Wynwood and true Artists leaving for LA. I’m concerned “Art” is becoming nothing more than another superficial Miami Scene up for grabs and it’s a shame when the scene could have been a lot more if this city wasn’t so consumed by pretentious bullshit and people trying to be someone rather than simply being genuine, curious, and cultured. This goes for consumers and “Artists” alike.

  17. 17 Revulú said at 12:16 pm on June 13th, 2012:

    What’s the difference between Britto and hipster-darlings like “Friends With You”? NOTHING. It’s always the ones who cant even draw a smiley face who are whining about “true artists.”

  18. 18 Phase GW said at 4:11 am on June 14th, 2012:

    I personally know who was the one who put up the flowers on his building and what was done was wrong because the flowers where put up by a fellow graffiti artist of Miami trying to merg the Graf scene with britto pop art. Weather or not people like britto and his style slash work there are many people that are looking for a chance to do things it sucks that people assume that what they did was a shot at britto it was directly towards the Graf community. This will nOt stop britto or the fellow artist from working on the merg of the Graf community and Pop Art. Stop the HaTE art is walk of life and a sense of expression for all……

    GW PHASE (graffiti artist)MIAMI

  19. 19 Sophia Belatran said at 9:53 pm on June 15th, 2012:

    @Phase GW a graff artist trying to “merge the graf scene” with shitty pop art by copying/painting shitty pop art in order to merge the graff scene? That’s the more ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! While the intention is good, it is being executed in the most hideous way possible.

    @Revulu Friends With You are commercial toy designers and everything they do stems from that. They don’t pretend to be something they’re not.

  20. 20 franco said at 8:40 am on June 16th, 2012:

    I’m not a fan of Britto’s art but more power to him for building a lucrative career on his work. Obviously it makes lots of people happy.

    Who decides what’s art and what’s not? If I don’t like your work is it OK for me to deface it? All this pretentious crap about who and who isn’t worthy is a bigger pile of s***t then Britto’s work.

  21. 21 Deborah "Najirrah" Woeckner Saavedra said at 11:16 pm on June 16th, 2012:

    Britto is pop, sugar-coated, happy, pretty, smiley people holding hands version of the world…and has become a household name (or at least been plastered on so many t-shirts, coffee mugs, mousepads, etc…that his impact extends far beyond Miami. It is true that he has done some charitable work for non-profit organizations and deserving kids in Miami, but more importantly to me, when you are an artist of his stature, you assume a RESPONSIBILITY as a leader in the art community, to help CREATE SPACES where young and upcoming/emerging artists can incubate (INKUB8) their work and their ideas. Mentoring, creating innovative partnerships between schools and young artists/visiting artists/local artists is one way to do this…but where the distaste for Britto comes from is the “oversaturation” of his images, which never seem to evolve or change, as most artists’ work does, as a consequence of more introspection, living, personal growth, and challenging oneself to go deeper…

  22. 22 Sophia Belatran said at 2:20 pm on June 17th, 2012:

    @Deborah BRAVO!!! VERY WELL SAID!!!

    “where the distaste for Britto comes from is the “oversaturation” of his images, which never seem to evolve or change, as most artists’ work does, as a consequence of more introspection, living, personal growth, and challenging oneself to go deeper”

  23. 23 swampthing said at 10:51 pm on June 18th, 2012:

    Might Martinez Celaya be next? Those battleship grey walls are the bomb.

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