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NikeTown dedicates murals to residents of Miami-Dade

By Anelli Shearer
Staff Writer
--Published January 21, 1999, in Coral Gables News

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In celebration of the grand opening of its 12th NikeTown store at the Shops of Sunset Place on Saturday, Jan 23, Nike will present two large colorful murals done by the distinguished artist Xavier Cortada to the residents of Miami - Dade County.

The murals, measuring 20 feet by 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-Dade 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 a 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," Cortada said. "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 viewers 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 and orderly depiction of a game in progress. Yet it is 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 20 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 techniques 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," Cortada said. "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," Cortada explained "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."

The Shops of Sunset Place are located at 5701 Sunset Dr. (bordered by S. Dixie Highway, Red Road and Sunset Drive) in South Miami