Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Colorful History Unlike Any Other: Ybor City in all its glory

Tampa has muralists of all levels of artistic ability, creativity and seriousness. (I well know that other cities throughout the world can also rightly lay claim to some real talented wall artists...even subway cars!) I like discovering these works of art as I wander through our streets and neighborhoods. I've found that if I go out specifically to find one chances are very good I won't even find badly spray-canned graffiti. Many of these handpainted murals are fun and colorful and aren't really meant to engage the viewer or to teach in a serious way. They are light and decorative and most succeed in bringing a smile to our faces. I've posted some in the past that adorn convenience stores, auto repair garages and restaurant/bars. The brighter the color and more attractive the graphic design the better. In most cases the artist (and I hope the owner of the building) is trying to draw our attention and promote the business. Some are in locations that make no sense and are comical and inexplicable at the same time. To me, the sillier and more whimsical the better.


In May I posted a mural, HERE, celebrating the history of West Tampa. Like that large mural in MacFarlane Park, this mural representing Ybor City is treated with respect and even reference for the history it depicts so well. With great color and style the artist presents highlights from the rich history of Tampa's Latin neighborhood. In many ways Ybor City has a far more interesting history than does Tampa. This handpainted piece is facing west so it will be on your left as you enter Ybor through the iron gateway on 7th Avenue at Nick Nuccio Parkway. Tobacco leaves, cigar workers and factories serve as the backdrop and anchors for the painting as workers handroll cigars on the left side, and el Lector, the reader, his arm raised and pointing as he reads to them from a Spanish or Cuban newspaper, is to their right and above. The bespectacled Lector, very important to the cigar workers, was educated, well paid and greatly respected. He kept the factory workers informed of labor issues, world and local events, and even read novels. (Go in close to him to see the powerful way he is painted.) The flag of Cuba flies to his right. Scenes of Ybor in the 1920s show cars of that era and a trolley. Jose Marti, the hero of Cuban independence from Spain, who I featured HERE, is the mustachioed gentleman to the left of center. The entire mural is surrounded by handpainted tiles affixed to the wall. I'm glad I found this one, hiding in plain sight as they say, and will keep my eye out for more. Serious or plain silly, I love my murals.

4 comments:

Vogon Poet said...

Frank, you are right: many cities has some good murals, but I followed you careful description and studied this one for a while and convinced myself that this is quite different.
This is a painting with various styles and a great story to tell, more real work of art than fancy painted wall. Great post and impressive image. You have a really good school of murals there.

Jacob said...

This one I really like! There seems to be a pattern and some sense to it...

Very colorful, for sure!

Don and Krise said...

It seems murals are making somewhat of a comeback in some areas. I love 'em. So colorful. They add character to the neighborhood, tell a story (like the one pictured) and just are pleasing to the eye. Good work Frank.

Lois said...

All I can say it WOW, this is a great mural Frank! I enlarged it so I could see it better. That street scene in the lower left corner almost looks like a photograph.