TAMPA, Fla. — Walk through the side door of Selina Román’s unassuming studio in West Tampa and you’ll immediately get a taste of her artistic style and her favorite subjects.
Nature. Feminism. Architecture. pastels. Florida aesthetics. And everything that makes the Sunshine State quirky, quirky, and uniquely Florida.
“Florida is beautiful, but it can kill you at the same time,” she laughed, as she showed a large landscape photo featuring twin glittering inner tubes floating down a spring-fed shallow river through spectacular and unforgiving Florida wilderness.
His Cherry St. studio gives the art photographer space to think about future projects. This is where she can draw inspiration from past works, like the sequin-adorned mannequin that stands quietly in a corner of the studio or the series of photographs featuring colorful and kitsch Florida motels hanging on its walls. .
“These are abstract self-portraits of my body,” Román said Thursday, as she edited a more recent photography project in Adobe Lightroom. “It’s one of those examples of having a studio – if I hadn’t had studio space, I wouldn’t have been able to do this work.”
But, Román said a space like his is a luxury that many local artists don’t have. She said it was difficult to find affordable studios, as well as reliable collectors and affordable housing. Because of these shortcomings, she describes Tampa’s art scene as an incoherent patchwork.
“There are a lot of things that make a city or a city a great art city, and we have some of those components, but I feel like not all the pistons are working,” said she explained. “Because of some of these holes, okay, in the artistic fabric, a lot of us, you know, we graduate from USF or institutions and then they go to other cities like New York , Atlanta or Chicago.”
An old warehouse in Ybor City, however, could be Tampa’s answer. The building, which is a bit of a sight for sore eyes currently, will soon transform into a visually appealing concept dubbed Meatyard Ybor.
The project, which is being developed by Darryl Shaw, will create 56 affordable artist studios, a carpentry shop, a print lab and approximately 3,000 square feet of gallery and exhibition space.
Shaw hopes Meatyard will bring the creators back to Ybor City.
“There was a strong contingent of artists in Ybor, well known. Contingent of artists in Ybor – they moved when Ybor started to gentrify and rents got more expensive,” Shaw said. “Let’s hope Meatyard will be the impetus for a bigger arts district.”
But his vision extends beyond the arts. Shaw hopes Meatyard, combined with other budding developments like Gas Worx, will help the historic district become a better mix of nightlife, shops and restaurants, homes, public spaces, arts and culture. .
“It’s known as an entertainment district, but there’s so much more to Ybor and so much more than there can be,” he said. “I think over the next five to 10 years we’re going to see a dramatic transformation.”
Back in his studio, Román is excited about Meatyard. While she can’t say if she would leave her West Tampa studio for a space in Meatyard, she thinks many other local artists will thrive in the new, affordable spaces.
Meatyard, she hopes, will help solidify Tampa’s artistic identity.
“I think a city without art is probably a very sad place,” she said. “When a city has something like this, it just shows that a city is serious about its artists.”
Shaw, meanwhile, hopes to open Meatyard to artists by the end of next year, but complications with supply chains and other ongoing challenges could impact that timeline. Due to these fluctuating factors, Shaw cannot yet determine the size of the investment.