Triad Magazine

A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.

An Artistic Revival

By Evelyn Jiminez

 

For years, Ybor City was recognized for

its abundance of unique art galleries

that lined the historic brick streets.

More recently, however, the city has

been known for its nightlife attractions,

from clubs and bars to concert venues

and arcades. While the nightlife

continues to thrive and grow, Ybor’s

artistic spirit has ceased to be the giant

that it once was. Now, local artists are

taking a stand and fighting to keep Ybor

City’s art and culture alive.

The Ybor Art Walk by the Ybor Art

Association is one vehicle by which

local artists hope to revive the once

flourishing art scene.

The Ybor Art Association is a nonprofit

organization that brings together

the creative venues of Ybor City, helping

them build business and attract other

ventures to Ybor. One of it’s missions is

the cultural and historic preservation

of Ybor City. The first Saturday of every

month from noon to 6 p.m., art lovers

gather for this self-guided tour of Ybor

City’s artistic spaces. By promoting art

and culture rather than the bustling

night-life, many hope to enliven the

community as well as the economy.

Walter Romeo, one of the founders

of the Art Association, is aware of how,

after the clubs pushed artists out of

Ybor, “the art thing disappeared.” He

said daytime in Ybor has always been

slow. “The whole mission of the art

walk is to promote daytime traffic,

daytime retail business,” he said. He

said another goal is to help Ybor’s local

artists by encouraging visitors to buy

their art.

The Art Walk will feature several

art galleries including the Arnold

Martinez Art Gallery, with original

art, prints and giclees of Ybor City

and Tampa; Casa Lala Gallery, with

paintings, ceramics and sculptures;

Gallery 1707, with works by Ellen

Marshall and Nels Johnson; Reax Space,

a gallery/boutique featuring original

artwork, fashions, prints and lifestyle

accessories.

Romeo suggested that people start

the tour at the Ybor Art Colony at 1521

E. Seventh Ave., where they can pick

up a map and walk in the studios while

the artists work. “I think the highlight

of the walk is the Ybor Art Colony

here because it’s our anchor. There’s

more artists concentrated here in this

building than anywhere else, it’s very

unique,” Romeo said.

This event could potentially

help other businesses flourish, since

financial issues have forced the closing

of several Ybor businesses including

Starbucks, the International Bazaar and

Art on 9th. Film major Sonia Rivera,

20, roams the many places there are

to visit in Ybor and says they’re always

deserted. “It would be a shame to

see this historical and cultural center

disappear,” she said.

Many hope that the walk will

inspire HCC students to do more in

their community than just party. Daniel

Venegas, 25, a pharmacy major, had

no idea Ybor even had art galleries. “I

thought Ybor City was just a place to

party; I never knew it had so many other

things to do,” he said.

Romeo said the art walk is a work

in progress. “It’s gradually getting

bigger and better all the time,” he said.

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