The "Legacy" project that NYC native Gaia...
initiated as an art student in Baltimore places portraits of powerful men who have shaped city landscapes on the streets of cities such as Baltimore, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Albany and, most recently, Miami. Gaia says, "I don't do these murals as celebrations, but I do them to reopen up the book of history and investigate these people in a setting that is specific to their legacy. I think it's interesting to have their portrait in a place they shaped, so that their responsibility becomes apparent—so that you can have a face to the name."
Having just graduated from art school this year, for the Wynwood Doors in 2011 Gaia painted a portrait of Henry Flagler. "If you're from Miami, you've definitely heard of him. He's the reason why Florida is essentially Florida or why Miami is even called Miami. As a powerful oil and railroad tycoon, he decided that Miami would be the perfect location to run his railroad through. He established Overtown on the west side of the freight tracks for his black workers. This historic neighborhood that sits 15 blocks south of the Wynwood Walls would eventually be decimated by the construction of I-95 and urban renewal."
Gaia has a passion for theory. He thinks about the role and functions of public art, and he addresses problems of poverty and segregation in his work, explaining that he is more attracted to the reality of a situation than to pegging a subject as good or bad. A lot of the people he talked to while he was painting the Wynwood Doors knew who Flagler was, and they were happy that we could paint something pertinent to the neighborhood. On the sides of his spray-painted portrait, Gaia wheat-pasted posters of photos he shot of different historic buildings in Overtown.