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Curaçao invades Wynwood ahead of Art Basel

Well-known for its bright, multi-colored facades, the Caribbean island of Curaçao is ripping out a page from its own playbook and making a splash in Miami with a larger-than-life mural in the heart of Wynwood. Inspired by the eclectic street art that has emerged over the last two years in the nation’s capital of Willemstad, the Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB) enlisted the help of established creative and local Curaçaoan, Sander Van Beusekom, to design and paint an original piece that will be displayed in Wynwood in anticipation of Art Basel 2019.

The brainchild of Van Beusekom and the CTB team, the 40’ x 18’ mural off Northwest 24th Street serves as a play on the island’s global branding campaign. The vibrant colors – a kaleidoscope of sunny yellow, sky blue, tangerine, indigo and fuschia – draw directly from CTB’s style aesthetic, while the graphics represent the best that Curaçao has to offer, from its friendly locals to its slashy marine life. The piece, entitled “Tickle Me Curaçao,” highlights a fun-loving and stylish Curaçaoan woman tickling the underbelly of a parrotfish, a rainbow-colored creature that dwells in the island’s 65+ dive sites. A closer look, however, reveals a background reminiscent of Curaçao’s iconic historical buildings and the Queen Juliana Bridge, the tallest bridge in the Caribbean. The blue hues of the backdrop and the woman’s star-shaped earnings are a further nod to the ABC Island and the national flag.

“We are always seeking creative ways to push the envelope and put Curaçao on the global stage,” said Pennicook. “With nonstop airlift on American Airlines out of Miami International, South Florida has always been one of our top geographic markets. Marrying the our emerging art scene with one of Miami’s most prominent events seemed like a natural fit.”

Born and raised in Curaçao, Van Beusekom is one of several local artists credited with breathing new life into Curaçao’s Scharloo and Pietermaai districts with their oversized murals splashed against the city’s streets. Van Beusekom, along with his sister and project manager Nicole, run BLEND Creative Imaging, a forward-thinking art and graphic design company that dabbles in illustration and animation. Van Beusekom was one of the founders of Street Art Skalo, an organization whose mission is to beautify the Scharloo area of Curaçao and to showcase the island’s local talent. His piece behind the Curaçao Maritime Museum, a father and son out for a day of fishing, is one of the most Instagrammed pieces of street art on the island.

“Everyday I feel inspired by Curaçao’s residents, by its colors, and by the island’s natural beauty, and have always felt compelled to showcase those aspects in my art,” said Van Beusekom. “Having the opportunity to create a Curaçao mural and put the destination on a global stage is something I could have only dreamed about.”

The Wynwood project began in early November and took approximately two weeks to complete. “Tickle Me Curaçao” will be on display throughout Art Basel (Dec. 5-8) and onward through the end of January.

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