Marcus Blake's Elevated Expressions

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By: Miami New Times Writer

Throughout the streets of Miami’s Little Haiti and beyond, locals and visitors alike are drawn to the vibrant, fascinatingly geometric street art creations crafted by multi-medium artist Marcus Blake. Completely self-taught, Blake has been a beloved member of Miami’s arts community for years, creating visually dynamic works infused with a bold, often pastel color palette.

Aside from his larger-than-life creations around Miami, Blake also does collage and acrylic on canvas, as well as performance art, music, poetry and other writing. For those that follow his work, it often seems that there’s no end to how far his artistic vision can take him – and luckily for us, Miami gets to come along for the ride.

American Pharaoh
Blake's award-winning "American Pharoah"

Bringing His Artistic Perspective to Miami

Hailing from Jamaica, Blake has shared his passion for art with Miami for years, from coordinating and participating in local events to opening his first studio, Base Art Space. There, fellow creatives took part in weekly open mic nights and other artistic events without being limited by the restrictions of a typical venue. Like virtually everything else Blake does, opening Base Art Space was an effort founded in the idea that cultivating creativity is one of the best ways to bring people together in a meaningful way. With Base Art Space's closing in 2017 he opened M. Blake Inc., where he continues to explore all areas of creativity in inspiring new ways.

Blake has hosted countless performance events, brightened dozens of structures with his art and nurtured the local artistic community. From Little Haiti to Historic Overtown and from Downtown Miami to Liberty City, Blake’s colorful touch can be spotted all over. Even for those who may not know him by name, his intricate works are part of the fabric of Miami.

Since the early 2000s, Blake has been making a mark on the local art scene in his own way – and now, he’s hoping to take his next steps toward making an even bigger difference. With dreams to serve as Miami’s first-ever Art Commissioner, Blake’s mission is to help fellow Miami artists thrive. His motto, “We are the culture,” is a simple but impactful summation of his belief that through art, people can be united in emotion, beauty and visual expression.

His art piece, “American Pharoah,” won him the 2018 Art of Black Miami Cover Competition. Blake received a cash award and featured cover story in MIA Legacy Magazine. The magazine’s Art of Black Miami issue is a beautiful artistic representation and guide to galleries that represent artists of the black diaspora.

Art of Black Miami is a marketing platform and destination driver that showcases the diversity of the visual arts locally, nationally and internationally, celebrating the black diaspora. This initiative highlights the artistic cultural landscape found in Miami's heritage neighborhoods and communities year-round.

“Tapenology” Takes Over the Miami Street Art Scene

Though Marcus Blake puts virtually no boundaries on his creative expression, with pieces that appear in public spaces, restaurants, and offices in Miami, the work he is perhaps best known for is his “Tapenology” series of street art murals. Comprised of complex layers, a rainbow of colors and a unique, geometric style, his approach is as much about the process as it is the final product.

For Blake, creating each piece is akin to meditation. His work captures his vision of allowing a pattern to grow and expand until it takes over a specific space, accomplishing an all-encompassing effect that reminds him of the power of nature itself. Sometimes his murals take on an entire wall, while other pieces are dedicated to just a door or a column – it all depends on which elements call out to Blake and his artistic eye.

Seeking Inspiration from All Angles of Miami

Blake’s childhood years spent in Jamaica aren’t just a part of his past; they’re a major player in his present and future. In fact, many of his favorite things to see and do in Miami are intertwined with personal experiences he had in his native country. As Blake explains:

Being from Jamaica, my childhood consisted of climbing hills and mountains. Since that [type of landscape] is non-existent here, I'm always seeking out places of high elevation, whether in a tree or a rooftop lounge. I love being connected with green spaces, so parks have always been a go-to for me. I have a history with the classic beauties of Morningside and Legion Park, but I'm always inclined to explore and find other hidden gems, such as Alice Wainwright Park in Coconut Grove and Enchanted Forest at Biscayne Boulevard and 135th Street.

He finds inspiration in the famously bright colors of Miami, as well as the ever-changing architecture, which he says, “keeps my mind sharp, giving me new ideas and looking for new places to paint.” There isn’t just one artist that Blake can designate as his sole inspiration, especially because he finds ideas in so many varying aspects of everyday life, ranging from personal experiences to social injustices:

I was not inspired by any one person in particular to become an artist. For me, art has always been a way to process my emotions and express the world around me.

You’ll rarely see Blake traveling by car because he much prefers experiencing Miami while seated atop a bike. Aside from being a simple way to avoid traffic and parking issues, bicycling incorporates fresh air, peaceful back roads and an up-close view of urban beauty into his daily routines.

If Marcus isn’t busy in his studio, you might spot him chowing down at his favorite restaurant in Miami, Chez Le Bebe, in Little Haiti. His go-to menu recommendation is the fried chicken, which comes with a tub of Haitian rice, plantains, salad, and pikliz.

The gorgeous weather is easily one of the things Blake loves most about Miami, but even more so, he adores Miami’s distinct character. He describes Miami as “one big backyard,” with a unique balance of big city and small-town feel. With Marcus Blake infusing the community with his talents, our Miami backyard is certainly more beautiful than ever before.

Discover More Artistic Contributions from Miami’s Marcus Blake

Once you’ve realized the full scale of the artistic contributions Blake has made to the community, one thing becomes absolutely clear: Miami has undoubtedly been brightened thanks to his creative presence.

Learn more about Marcus Blake and his work on his website or by exploring his Instagram page, @mdotblake.

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