MC Presley in Wynwood

Apparently everyone has their eye on the freshly painted wall on NE 29th Street in Wynwood, just south of Midtown Miami. The mural, which depicts Elvis Presley with an Old School Hip Hop era flat top and Adidas jumpsuit, was recently completed by artist, Pete Kirill. The artwork was commissioned by David Lombardi, Wynwood real estate developer and broker of Lombardi Properties, who is also an avid art collector and owner of the fine art storage facility, Museo Vault.

Elvis Presley as an Old School Hip Hop MC, by artist Pete Kirill

Elvis Presley as an Old School Hip Hop MC, by artist Pete Kirill

Wedged between the art gallery and the wall of hedges, just after the railroad tracks slice Northeast 29th Street, Elvis hovers over Wynwood.

He stands tall against the crushed green backdrop on a street mural, pop-culturally familiar and yet, somehow different.

Maybe it’s the black sweatsuit, or the thick gold rope necklace, or the epic high-top fade, inspired by Kid ‘n Play.

This is Elvis Presley 2.0, re-imagined as a hip-hop head on his 78th birthday.

“I wanted to mix the ideas of an American icon with the hip-hop culture, making a statement about how black music influenced Elvis and black music is influenced by rock ‘n’ roll,” says Pete Kirill, a neo-pop artist. “I call it MC Elvis.”

As he raced the sunset to finish the stripes on the King’s sweatsuit a few days ago, Kirill says he began working on the mural the week of Jan. 8, Elvis’ birthday. Beyond blending parallel cultures bound by the power of music, the artist wanted to also honor the King posthumously.

“I just thought this would be a cool idea,” he says, peeling bits of green paint off his hands.

So, there is the King staring east, toward the skeletal remains of Art Basel, his head positioned between seven windows on a building in an otherwise empty lot. The wall, the back side of a design business, has been used before for art, most recently an abstract by a Brooklyn artist. The works were commissioned by real estate developer David Lombardi, who owns the patchwork gravel and grass lot. The empty property is likely to be reincarnated as a parking lot, but for now it provides front-row viewing for MC Elvis.

“I like using the place for art. I like to change things up a good deal and keep it fresh,” says Lombardi, an early Wynwood pioneer. “I saw Pete’s work and thought it was clever and fun.”

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