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Over the years, Miami has, for better or worse, become known for its murals.  Some of the most compelling are those that reference or interact with the immediate environment – they somehow contextualize or make better sense of their surroundings.  “Vortex” in the Miami Design District is a perfect example.  The first time I experienced it was with the remnants of construction and a thin layer of dust floating around purple LED lamps: a perfectly and sufficiently hazy setting for an enormous vortex mural.

“Vortex” is the work of 2 x 4, a collaborative studio of designers, programmers, writers and animators who practice in a range of media.  Their approach to projects revolves around critical thinking and research; and as seen in the Design District, the process is often reflected in bold graphic pieces that question conventional design.  Where as the composition of “Vortex” intentionally draws the gaze toward the building’s large sliding door, it also creates an interesting tension between the wall and viewer.  The spiral both invites people to wonder what lies behind the sealed-off entrance, and their very own place in time and space.  One could almost imagine barreling through time with a click of the heels.   

The effect is especially sobering late at night when, as if by accident, pedestrians walking out of restaurants or lounges might suddenly find themselves next to a living and spinning cyclone. Though the fluidity of the vortex effect is counterbalanced with 2 x 4’s use of bold lines and contrasting black and white, in a seemingly endless rotation on the curved axis, the eyes are nevertheless pulled toward its center. 

“Vortex” joins “Jungle,” a second mural by 2 x 4 that pays homage to the region’s lush tropical landscape.  Viewed together, they perfectly capture the contradictions and mishmashes inherent to South Florida.  See these walls for yourself on NE 38th Street between NE 2nd and NE 1st Avenues, preferably after a cocktail or two nearby at The Cypress Room or The Stage. 

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