'Dollar a Gallon III' – Miami, Florida - Atlas Obscura

'Dollar a Gallon III'

This sculpture in the Miami Design District is one of the few public works of Virgil Abloh, an internationally recognized fashion designer and creative. 

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Amidst the high-end Miami Design District, visitors can find an incongruous sight tucked away on a side street. A gas station billboard painted a dull gold lies tilted on its side, still flashing its advertisement for Sunoco gas. This structure isn’t a discarded product of the past, but a public artwork entitled Dollar a Gallon III, one of the final works of American polymath Virgil Abloh.

Abloh’s career crossed many boundaries between the worlds of fashion, art, music, product design, architecture, and business. Born in Rockford, Illinois, as the child of Ghanaian immigrants, Abloh rose to fame as the creative director and visionary behind many of the visual works and fashion of Kanye West.

In 2012, Abloh stepped into the world of high fashion as the founder of Off-White. His unique style married high-end fashion and streetwear, bringing him international recognition. By 2018, he was named artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton, becoming one of the first Black designers to head a line at a French fashion house. In the U.S., his world also began to intersect more and more with the Miami art scene.

Abloh would become a frequent attendee and creator at the annual Art Basel Miami festival, and in 2019, he announced plans to design and build Off-White’s flagship store in the Miami Design District. That same year, he unveiled Dollar a Gallon III. This piece is one of the few works of public art by Abloh, who had begun to transition to the medium. In keeping with Abloh’s perspective on art, the work is heavily branded, down to having a sponsor, is made from mixed media, and comments on the juxtaposition of art and commerce, including the place where it was installed. 

Unfortunately, what was meant to be an introduction to the city instead became a valedictory. Abloh was diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2019. Keeping the diagnosis private for as long as he could, he passed away on November 28, 2021. Although he died in what was then his hometown of Chicago, grief spread through Miami, where tributes to Abloh went up instantly on the Wynwood Walls. Just two days later, Louis Vuitton was to display his Spring-Summer collection in Miami. Instead, the event was held as a tribute to the master designer, and to this day in the Miami Design District, you can find the phrase taken from the show: “Virgil was here.”

Know Before You Go

Dollar a Gallon III cannot be viewed from the main streets of the Design District. Instead, walk down Paseo Point, halfway between NE 40th St and NE 41st St. The work is located under an arch. It is free and open to the public.

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