Plenty to like at Instagramers Gallery in Wynwood

The Instagram craze has infiltrated the Wynwood Arts District with a street-side gallery devoted to displaying images captured for social media.

The Instagramers Gallery (2324 N. Miami Ave.), owned by co-founders Phil Gonzalez and Jorge Martinez of Spain, opened in early December with two exhibits: a collection of images taken by more than a dozen Instagrammers from around the world as well as the work of Miami-based Instagramers. Collectively, the group has more than 5 million followers.

“Whether you like photography or you just want to see someone else’s world, this is the perfect place for you,” says Martinez. “We want everyone to come and see the beauty of the Instagram image.”

This is the official gallery space for the website, which launched on the same day as the opening. The online site provides creatives of all levels with an egalitarian venue to share photography in the Instagram format with what could be a larger than usual audience. While it’s not officially affiliated with the app, users must have an Instagram account to interact with the site.

One of the featured photographers in the inaugural exhibition is Ines Hegedus-Garcia, a Miami-based realtor and the administrator of @igersmiami on Instagram. Igers Miami is an account created by Gonzalez to showcase Miami through the eyes of local Instagramers.

Hegedus-Garcia says you can go to any major city in the world and find an IGERS community. “The gallery in Wynwood has now taken that to the next level, giving the Igers Miami community an extra incentive to participate,” Hegedus-Garcia says.

In contrast to Instagram, there’s no need for “followers” on and it’s free to upload to or view. Downloading images from other users is also allowed (and free). To maintain the overall quality, users are restricted to uploading one image per day.

And, that one image could translate into big winnings thanks to the site’s “Image-Day” contest. The top photo of the day, essentially the one with the most “likes,” wins $1,000 and a spot for display in the Miami gallery.

Winners of the daily contest will compete for a grand prize of $100,000 for the best photo according to a jury of personalities from the art world and the communications and technology industries. The judges will be announced closer to the end of the contest, which wraps on May 1, 2014.

The co-founders, who visit Miami from Spain once a month, say they chose Wynwood because it’s the city’s art district and art is an important component of the Instagram image.

“Launching the gallery seemed like a natural progression after the success of the online portal. Our vision and ultimate goal is to allow anyone and everyone the chance of being a featured artist – this is the power of social media,” Gonzalez says.

The Wynwood location is the first in a series of brick and mortar galleries set to open in cities worldwide. The next stop is Madrid by the end of the month. It’s where Gonzalez calls home and where visual art is just as significant as food and wine.

In addition to exhibitions, the Miami gallery will be home to an ongoing program of talks, seminars, forums and special events geared toward the local community of the site’s users.