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Cortada was commissioned by NIKETOWN to create two 24-foot tall glass-mosaic murals for the exterior walls of their new building at the Shops at Sunset Place in South Miami. The NIKETOWN murals were dedicated on January 6th, 1999.

  See NIKETOWN Murals | Press ReleaseArtist's Statement | News Articles


niketown dedicates murals to residents of Miami Dade

Miami, FL (Jan. 6, 1999) – In celebration of the opening of its twelfth NikeTown store, Nike will present two large, colorful murals done by the distinguished artist Xavier Cortada to the residents of Miami-Dade. The murals, measuring 20 x 24 feet each will hang on the exterior of store. "We, at Nike, felt strongly that we should not only give the people of Miami the best destination for innovative, athletic product, but also a visually exciting building," explained Val Munoz, Director of Global Retail Marketing for Nike. "We commissioned a local artist who would not only capture the spirit of sports, but also the diversity and energy of the community."

Cortada, a resident and native of Miami, was selected because his energetic and emotional style fit perfectly with NikeTown’s vision. Inspired by great Latin American artists as well as de Kooning and Picasso, Cortada’s work creates strong images with his cubist and expressionist style, his bold tropical colors and use of thick black lines. "Sports touch the human spirit just as art does," said Cortada. "They are filled with passion, challenges and inspirations. I was pleased to have been given the opportunity to communicate this and have it also end up as a gift to my hometown."

Soccer presents itself as a flurry of activity. Bodies tangle, balls fly, faces twist in joy and pain and the turf rises to the sky. Cortada takes us through the progression of the sport. His intertwining images represent the game played by amateur youths in the green turf of a local barrio, then depicts professional athletes whose very bodies connect with and create the stadium of fans. He then takes us to a place where soccer becomes universal where green pieces of turf representing different teams across the globe swirl around and create the sport.

Baseball is about the passion of the sport. Where Soccer seems almost wild, this painting seems to show an orderly depiction of a game in progress. Yet it is actually a composite of freeze-framed moments. The pitcher, sizing up the batter, about to throw the pitch; the batter dashing to first base, throwing his bat behind him; players stealing second and third; the player’s euphoria as he’s sliding home just as ball hits the catcher’s mitt. Events that wouldn’t naturally happen at once, here converge to relay the tremendous feeling of excitement and emotion found in the game.

In these two works, Cortada not only communicates the importance of the sport and the athletes, but also honors the fans. He believes that sports not only give fans pleasure, but unite and empower them. In both, fans fill the stadiums that rise above the games in play to symbolize the fans themselves reaching for their own dreams. This is a great compliment to what is happening within NikeTown Miami. The desire to empower and inspire the athlete in everyone is an integral part of each store’s mission.

NikeTown Miami was designed to capture all the energy and excitement of a stadium event. The customer, or fan, will immediately feel as if they’re in a stadium when they enter the large elliptical space with its open "field." A grand staircase serves as a "stand" for these fans to view an event. Here, the spectacle, which occurs every twenty minutes, is the large screen showing films featuring Nike’s product, innovations and inspirations. "Advertising boards" positioned around the perimeter of the NikeTown

Miami stadium serve as signs for the product pavilions behind them. The twist here is that these appear to be photographs at first glance, but are actually hand-painted. This artwork serves as a compliment to Cortada’s paintings, which also hang in the store, and his exterior murals.

Cortada chose the glass mosaic technique because of its beauty and permanence. The murals compliment the store’s architecture and incorporate well into this new landscape. "I thought of the commuters who would have to see these murals each day as they crawled through traffic on US-1," said Cortada. "I wanted to be able to capture their imagination every day and offer them something different each time." The mosaics take on lives of their own because they change with the light and the distance in which they are viewed. "The further you are the clearer the image looks," explained Cortada. "When you’re close, you don’t see the image as a whole, but concentrate more on the glass tiles themselves. It’s like examining the brushstrokes of a painting."

Each viewer will take away something different from these murals, but it’s the hope of Cortada and NikeTown Miami that everyone will feel our passion for sports and see this also as a thank you for embracing NikeTown as a member of the community.

NikeTown’s public grand opening will be held Sat, Jan. 23, 1999.

Nike Inc., based in Beaverton, Oregon, creates authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for sports and fitness enthusiasts. Wholly-owned Nike subsidiaries include Cole Haan, which markets a line of high-quality men’s and women’s dress and casual shoes; Sports Specialties Corporation, which markets licensed headwear; and Bauer, Inc., which designs, markets and sells Bauer and Nike hockey equipment, including ice and roller hockey skates, protective gear, sticks and in-line skates.


artist's statement at dedication of murals on january 6th, 1999

I am honored to stand in this building today, unveiling two important paintings that Nike is providing as gifts to the only place I’ve ever called home. Two paintings about the essence of athletes, sports and their relevance to our world.

Today, I stand here as one of many who have helped build anew. In partnership with a corporation that has shown Miami the respect to build a space that is an oasis. Intertwining the athletic and the artistic. The economic and the cultural. In many ways, this very building itself is a testament to a new paradigm.

Just a few weeks back, I was sharing some thoughts with the NEA Chairman in a reception thrown in his honor. We talked a bit about the positive aspects of this project, Nike’s sponsorship of an artistic effort. It’s an indication of important evolving partnerships and it comes at a time when the importance of art and supporting artistic endeavors isn’t always recognized.

Art is expression. And through these paintings I have tried to capture the essence of Sport. It’s not about products, it is simply about the Sport. A medium that likes art, touches the human spirit. Showers it with passion. Inspires it. Challenge, motivates. Engender community cohesiveness.

The Soccer painting takes us through the progression of the sport. From a game played by amateur youths in the green turf of a local barrio (at the bottom third of the painting). To the professional athletes whose very bodies connect with and create the stadium of fans (in the middle third of the painting). To a place (in the upper third of the painting), where the Soccer becomes universal. Green pieces of turf representing different teams across the globe swirl around and create a sport.

The Baseball painting is about the passion of the sport. The pitcher presiding over a game where the stadium of fans spill over onto the field. I remember standing in Calle Ocho the night Miami won the World Series, witnessing a wonderful, spontaneous street celebration. I wanted to capture such a celebration of sport in this painting. The euphoric player sliding home can be any of us!

Knowing these paintings were to become murals, I thought of the 100,000 commuters who would have to see them on a daily basis as they snailed through US-1 traffic. I thought of giving them a work of art that would capture their imagination. Would offer something different every time they would see it--images changing with light and distance. Challenging them to a new visual experience every time. Much like life offers us a new opportunity with every sunrise.

Since time immemorial, we have used art to express our reality. Our being, ourselves. From the cave paintings in Alta Mira to the paintings of the Sistine Chapel. From Egyptian hieroglyphics to the WPA murals across America. Indeed, all that remain from past civilizations is their art. Through their art we have a window to peek through and see their past.

In Venice, the San macro Cathedral with glass mosaics that have stood witness to the centuries mesmerized me. Humbled before them, I connected to the longevity of this art form. The permanence. The immortality, if you will. These mosaics aren’t necessarily for a season. They’re not even for this generation. They are timeless.

And they are Miami’s. For the next Millennium and beyond.