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Ybor Art Colony keeps tradition alive

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Posted at 5:33 AM, Mar 25, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. — When you’re walking down 7th Avenue in Ybor City there are some things that stand out and others that you never even realized were there. That’s how some might describe the Ybor Art Colony.

There are exactly 32 steps leading from the street to the second floor. Artists have been climbing up them since the 1970s.

"A long walk up those stairs and by the time you get up there and take your breath, 'I’m ready,'" said artist Greg Latch.

Latch has been piling up colorful canvases at the Ybor Art Colony for the past 15 years.

“People who lived here their whole life, they’ll go, ‘I’ve never heard of this place,’” said Latch. “This place is what makes me want to paint, I come here every day and paint.”

He said when you have the sights and sounds of 7th Avenue right outside your window the inspiration never runs dry.

“Life doesn’t pass you by in this window, it makes you part of it,” said Latch.

The location is only half of the magic. Being able to walk down the hallway and pop in on one of a dozen fellow artists is what transforms these studios into a colony.

“I think you can’t create art in a vacuum, or a sterile environment, you have to have gravitas, if that’s a good word,” said Latch.

“We’re so completely different and that’s the beauty of all of us,” said artist Karol Batansky.

“Just walking down the hallway and seeing their work compared to my work is very inspiring,” said artist Elizabeth Fontaine-Barr

“I love the camaraderie, I love the energy I get from other artists,” said artist Marilyn Binder-Silverman

These artists all understand they are just small brush strokes in what is a masterpiece 50 years in the making.

“Every person who leaves here in a way hands off that torch to another person,” said Latch.

If you want to check out the Ybor Art Colony they are holding a show Friday, March 25, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Their address is 1521 1/2 E. Seventh Avenue.