The space newly slated to hold Gala Corina, an art fete held annually in an unoccupied building, is perhaps the most fitting site.
It's in Ybor Square, on the plywood second floor of the old Ybor-Mannara Factory, tucked away from the bacchanal of Seventh Avenue but still within Tampa's historic party district.
Gala Corina is a party, after all, with opening night turnouts numbering upwards of 3,000 people.
Built in 1886, the old cigar factory has charming brickwork and a cupola atop the roof, from which cigar makers could spot tobacco boats arriving from Havana. It's easy to imagine an artsy crowd there, spilling out onto the brick patio, creating a scene outside the typically quiet building. The third floor is a law firm. The basement is the late Jazz Cellar.
The floor space is sufficient to contain the artwork of the 124 artists, selected from the 130 who submitted work. And with four double-door exits, the place is safe, too.
Safety seems an odd concern for an art show. Exhibits tend to make the news only when they arouse debate over obscenity. But the original title for this year's Gala Corina exhibit was Fifty-Four Rooms and original plans located it at the old Arlington Hotel in downtown Tampa — until Fire Marshal Gary Gonzalez told organizers the building was unsafe due to inadequate exits and lack of an automatic sprinkler system.
The organizers have since scrambled to move the event to Ybor Square. ZOM Development, owners of the property, donated the space and the American Institute of Architects helped foot the bill for beer and wine. The exhibit's new name, in recognition of the organizers' last-minute efforts to see the show go on, is Milagro, Spanish for miracle.
The opening takes place from 5 to 11 p.m. Fri., Nov. 7, and features live music outside in the square by Double Helix, Jim Beckwith, The Beat Specialist, Tribal Style, Unconscious Flux and White Spon. Inside, there's live art by Nick Scalise and Alfredo Lance, and music spun by DJ Tommy Moye. The show runs through Nov. 22.
The best reason to go, besides the mingling, is of course the art. Participating artists include A. A. Rucci (mixed media), Bask (painting), Margaret Conte (sculpture), P$ynner (mixed media) and Edgar Sanchez-Cumbas (painting).
Ybor Square is located at 1901 N. 13th St., Ybor City.