Tampa is world famous for its beauty, climate, and weird pirate-related festivals. But the Bay area is quickly earning respect for its quirky and diverse arts scene. From professional to spontaneous, here are some of the best places in Tampa to see a stunning variety of visual art:
- Illsol, 2744 N Florida Ave - This up and coming studio in Tampa Heights is run by husband and wife team Michelle Sawyer and Tony Krol, and they're becoming known for their amazing murals and large installation projects. Illsol offers a gallery, events, classes, and workshops for kids and adults.
- The Bricks - Opened in 2010 by the Skatepark of Tampa team, this hot Ybor hang out has an amazing menu, a bad-ass brunch, and this drink called the Constantine that you just HAVE to try. The Bricks is always hopping with various events, art shows, Dre Day, a hilarious yearly Star Wars celebration, Bananarchy, and the general daily Tampa weirdness that we love.
- USF CAM - The Contemporary Art Museum on the University of South Florida campus has featured culturally significant exhibitions from worldwide artists. CAM also has really fun opening night events, which can feature DJs, hors-d'oeuvres, free adult beverages, and all kinds of artsy shenanigans.
- Cafe Hey - This hip cafe nestled on the edge of downtown has a mouth-watering selection of hand-crafted sandwiches, including many vegetarian and vegan options - and it also has a monthly art show, featuring imaginative works by local artists that are accessible and affordable.
- Fodder & Shine - Located in the heart of that hipster heaven known as Seminole Heights, Fodder & Shine sports a huge beautiful mural on the side - a love letter to this historic and diverse neighborhood. Head inside for artisanal cocktails, a ridiculously tasty chicken biscuit like you won't believe, and a rotating selection of gorgeous artistic eye candy.
- Dysfunctional Grace - Looking for that perfect one of a kind bird skull - or some horrifying, old-timey medical instruments? Do armless mannequins and unidentifiable organic matter in jars get you excited? Then get down to Ybor City for a visit to Dysfunctional Grace, a creepy yet completely awesome boutique offering jewelry and objets d'art from the darker side.
- The Hub/ Downtown Tampa - Surprised to see this on Best Places in Tampa to See Stunning Visual Art? Truth is The Hub is a legend in Tampa, known for its strong drink and decidedly murky atmosphere. Patroned by surgeons, lawyers, actors, and artists, the Hub has a regular schedule of live music, DJs, and comedians. It also boasts an ever-changing display of murals, thought-provoking graffiti, and things that might be performance art but you're never really sure, are you?
- HCC Ybor Campus Art Gallery - A small but beautifully appointed space, this gallery features a wide variety of exhibitions and events from both students and professional artists from all over the world. Opening night events are a great place to mingle and enjoy some culture before moving on to the more decadent activities of Ybor.
- Wandering Eye - A non-profit co-op, Wandering Eye features a stunning selection of works from both local and global artists. Also located in the Ybor CIty historic district, Wandering Eye events are definitely where to see and be seen. You can also participate in their revolutionary Art Rental Program, enabling those who may not have a lot of cash right now to enjoy beautiful, uplifting artwork in their home or office.
- Ulele - Upscale yet quirky, this restaurant in historic Tampa Heights boasts a wide range of local, national, and international artists. Be sure to check out the stunning set of French stained glass panels dating all the way back from 1789 over the kitchen entrance, and the delicately beautiful art glass fish from Santorini, Greece.
Lucky for us art is plentiful in Tampa, from community installations to large Museums in Tampa like the Tampa Museum of Art, college galleries like the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery at the University of Tampa, and small independents. Whether you're into the classics or want to experience the edge avant-garde there is something for everyone. On our list Best Places in Tampa to See Stunning Visual Art we wanted to give you a few less obvious choices to explore. So get off the couch and out on the town to enjoy the many weird and wonderful bits of art all around us! (Cover photo from Scarfone/Hartley Gallery at the University of Tampa)