MIAMI ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: MURAL ARTIST ALEXANDER MIJARES
Alexander Mijares never saw himself as the artistic sort. A second generation Cuban American, Mijares was on a business track and working full-time at his father’s sheet metal fabrication business when he decided to give painting a try. ‘People say it should be so soothing and relaxing and stress-relieving, but it was a nightmare!’ he recalls. ‘I was struggling, nothing was going to plan.’ A couple of weeks and several layers of paint later, Mijares was finally satisfied with the state of his first work and took it to be stretched and framed. It was at this point that his mistake was pointed out to him: Mijares had painted on the wrong, unprimed side of the canvas — a novice mistake.
That first painting, despite its mishap, received rave reviews after Mijares posted it to social media, setting into motion what would become a new, unexpected trajectory for his career. That was five years ago. Today, Mijares has firmly established himself within the local art community with several successful, sold-out shows and is a leading figure in the flourishing street art scene that is overtaking Miami. From the streets of Wynwood where hardly a wall is left uncoated to his recent two-storey commission for the new EAST Miami in downtown Brickell, street art has perhaps never been hotter.
Mijares’s signature abstract style reflects the colourful and energetic melting pot of Latin and Caribbean cultures that is Miami and his own Spanish and Cuban roots. ‘I wanted to create a piece that had a lot of movement … that rhythm, that heartbeat that is Miami,’ says Mijares of his EAST Miami work.
Mijares also found in art the opportunity to have a voice, an opinion and to make a difference. ‘I think I’ve done every fundraiser in Miami at this point,’ he says with a chuckle. But in all seriousness, Mijares and his spray cans have travelled to Haiti, Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and throughout The Bahamas, often working with international aid organisation to, as he puts it, ‘bring some life’.
While he still finds time to work for his father full-time, the self-taught Mijares is part of a new wave of young artists helping to redefine the cultural scene in Miami and, importantly, working to keep it accessible. While he prefers canvas and sculpture work, ‘To be able to do street art,’ says Mijares, ‘is for the people.’