The Super Bowl is the biggest art show in Miami right now

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The Super Bowl is the biggest art show in Miami right now
Tristan Eaton with Super Bowl tickets he designed, in Miami, Jan. 19, 2020. The Super Bowl is back in Miami this year, and the organizers are giving a bear hug to the bold, exuberant street art that is a hallmark of the host city. Rose Marie Cromwell/The New York Times.

by Joseph B. Treaster

MIAMI (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- The Super Bowl is back in Miami this year, and the organizers are giving a bear hug to the bold, exuberant street art that is a hallmark of the host city.

Some of the brightest stars of street art — former skateboarders, surfers, break dancers and survivors of midnight raids on subway cars — have created fanciful murals to celebrate Super Bowl LIV.

One nearly covers a side of a 34-story bank building. A painted, two-story bouquet of 32 balloons — one for each team in the league — commands a wall in the Miami Beach Convention Center. The game tickets and the Super Bowl program cover are an explosion of tropical colors, with a sparkling silver Vince Lombardi Trophy rising in the path of a galloping ball carrier.

This explosion of art is, in part, thanks to Jessica Goldman Srebnick, the chief executive of the real estate development firm Goldman Properties and a member of the Super Bowl host committee. She shepherded the installation of 18 supersized murals into the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium and lined up the artists to create pieces ahead of the big game, which will be played at the stadium on Sunday.

The NFL’s embrace of rambunctious street art is a shift away from the classic graphic designs it usually favors — and might help the organization broaden its appeal.

“This does take us into a world that is not mainstream,” said Mollie Wilkie, one of the league’s creative directors. “But we think there are things to learn from street art. It is youthful, modern and bold and I think that is something we need to explore as we finish our 100th season.”

Street art has evolved, too. Cities and businesses around the world are now paying street artists — rather than trying to arrest them — and Miami is one of the exemplars.

“Street art is part of the soul of Miami,” Wilkie added. “We wanted to capture that. We try to capture the spirit of the host city.”

Here are the artists who put their mark on Miami for Super Bowl Sunday.

Tristan Eaton
The Los Angeles-based artist Tristan Eaton has been painting mostly with spray cans since his teenage hit-and-run graffiti attacks in Detroit and New York. But he designed the Super Bowl tickets and game program on his computer, wrapping a century of NFL highlights around a gleaming Lombardi Trophy.

“The look and the spirit of street art is there,” he said. “The computer is just another tool.” Eaton, 41, went back to spray cans to turn a 9-foot tall, fiberglass model of the Lombardi into a dazzling collage of aquas, pinks, purples, oranges and greens, art deco, palm trees and NFL milestones. It will be outside the stadium as fans arrive on game day.

Eaton’s father coached high school football: “Me doing art for the Super Bowl would have made him flip through the roof.”

Dasic Fernandez
Dasic Fernandez likes to work big. The Chilean artist’s mural nearly covers one side of the 34-story Citigroup bank building in downtown Miami, overlooking Bayfront Park. It shows the hallowed Lombardi Trophy mobbed by joyous fans — black, white, Latino and Asian, young and old. The building’s many windows made painting impossible. So Fernandez, 33, went digital. He created a canvas painting, worked on the image with his computer and emailed it to Miami for printing on big vinyl-like panels. “The spray can is my main tool,” he said. “But without digital tools, I couldn’t have done this piece.”

Kelly Graval, aka RISK
The 52-year-old artist Kelly Graval, known as RISK, painted his mélange of NFL team colors, installed in Bayfront Park, with the kind of spray cans he used in graffiti raids on his Los Angeles high school in the ’80s. But he also used a high-pressure spray gun and sculpted the Super Bowl letters with his computer.

His early years were wild. He stole a motorcycle, was shot in an ankle and was stabbed twice. He began making money by spraying graffiti at filming locations for $100, $200 a shot. Then came a Michael Jackson video, gallery shows and museum exhibitions. “My color palette was very dark,” he said. “Now it’s very bright.”

Joe Iurato
In the renegade days, graffiti artists used single stencils for quick hits. Now Joe Iurato, 47, from Cedar Grove, New Jersey, uses six layers of stencils to get detail, depth and tone. He is the rare street artist who works in black and white and creates his own portable billboard-like platforms. For the Super Bowl he’s painted murals of 10 striking moments in NFL history, like the founding meeting of team owners in 1920 and the Miami Dolphins’ perfect season in 1972. Iurato’s work is on display near an entrance of the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Kelsey Montague
“I like creating something that people can walk into and become a part of,” said Kelsey Montague, who grew up near Denver. Her creation in the Miami Beach Convention Center of a two-story bouquet of balloons is a perfect stage set for selfies and friend photos. Montague, 34, paints quickly. She says she has done more than 300 murals around the world since her first try at street art six years ago — a giant pair of angel wings on the side of a Manhattan restaurant with the hashtag, #whatliftsyou. From there, her career took off.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

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