Brandon Opalka

Miami, FL, USA

Local artist Brandon Opalka...

has been painting in the Wynwood area since he moved to Miami in 1996. Growing up with graffiti, and painting 30-foot murals by the time he was out of high school, he was accustomed to the industrial landscape that provided spray paint artists walls to hone their skills. Looking back, he couldn't have imagined the changes that Art Basel in 2002 and the Wynwood Walls in 2009 would bring to Miami. With thousands of visitors coming to see the art each year, the Wynwood Walls has certainly become an international platform for artists. Brandon was excited to be part of the project, and he presents us with a massive 115-foot mural in a vibrant impressionist style.

"When I did graffiti I would do different backgrounds, and trees were always something that I found myself painting." Inspired by natural life subjects, Brandon recounts the last monumental mural that he painted close to the Wynwood center on 24th Street in 2009: "It was of a redwood tree that was inspired by a photo from National Geographic … Because the wall was skinny, it sort of lent itself to something that could be tall, so I did the tree sideways on purpose as a metaphor to how we're living as a community—how our thinking about nature is sideways, and we're not viewing things the way that we should."

Continuing with this prescient ecological theme, Brandon's new mural for the Wynwood Walls depicts the tree cut down on the back of a semitruck, heading to a milling station. Using layers and layers of spray paint to achieve the effect he wanted, he sets the mood: "The truck is full of swirls and brush strokes; it looks like it's dripping and it's organic with organs. What I'm intending is to have it like a ghost truck, and then the tree is going to be painted in similar bright orange and greens colors like the last tree. The background is going to be darker with more neutral colors, like an apocalyptic world without trees."