It is a muggy early June morning in South Florida, the sort of cloudless, sunny day that overwhelms you with its heat and glare. At the Miami Marine Stadium, a waterfront grandstand that opened in 1963, closed in 1992, and has been overrun by graffiti for twenty years, the Italian street artist Pixel Pancho is spraying blue paint on a twenty-foot-high wall (Fig. 1). The Marine Stadium is a poured-in-place concrete structure that was designed, in its architect’s words, “to reveal its bones, not have them covered with paint.”1 Both its design and time have recently brought it landmark status. Pixel Pancho’s rapid-fire brush and roller work appears to be another layer of graffiti on those drab gray walls. But there is a difference. For one thing, the artist is making a point of only applying paint to surfaces that are already covered in layers of graffiti. For another, the two-story dragonlike image he is creating is not being done under cover of night or in hiding from the authorities. It is, instead, an urban art mural commissioned and sanctioned by Friends of the Miami Marine Stadium, the advocacy group that is spearheading the rehabilitation and conservation of the abandoned building.2 One of twenty large-scale artworks that are being painted at the stadium in the summer of 2014 by street artists from around the world, this work is part of the Art History Mural Project, an endeavor that aims to raise money for the conservation of the building by selling photographic prints of those murals.3 As such, it may be the first time that a building’s ongoing vandalism has been employed as a tool in its preservation. It is also probably the first time that a contemporary art movement is using its association with a preservation project in order to elevate its public profile with the mainstream art world.
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