Like tattoos themselves, the image of a tattoo parlor has changed drastically over the years.
One of Tampa's latest salons for skin ink, Ybor City Tattoo Co. at 1730 E Seventh Ave., stands a century apart from the smoky dens of yesteryear. Its pale yellow walls, red leather couches, bamboo floor and skylight provide a bright and airy warmth you don't usually get from a joint where people get fire-breathing dragons etched on their backs.
The newish establishment opened in April and celebrates its grand opening with an art show from 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday. On display at the space next to El Sol Cigars will be works inspired by various tattoo styles, from Asian to Sailor Jerry to graffiti to comics/animated illustrations.
Owner Pat Rieli, 29, said the exhibition will be up for two weeks and is just one of many art, charity and cultural events to come. Helping out will be coworkers Jennifer Lynn, Esben Rey and William "Uncle Buck" Parks. The group of friends and coworkers defected from another Tampa tattoo business Rieli chose not to name.
Rieli said he wants people to distinguish Ybor City Tattoo Co. from other tattoo businesses by its being more involved with charities and local organizations.
"We definitely want to be more helpful to the community," Rieli said. "We want to promote Ybor as a whole, as a place to be."
The old-meets-new feel of the space, with brick walls and a tattoo area at the front display window designed to resemble a turn-of-the-century cigar-rolling station, shows a reverence for maintaining Ybor City's character and architecture combined with modern sophistication.
On display at Sunday's event will be works by the artists of Ybor City Tattoo Co. along with those of Mike Wilson, Jeremy Swed, Richard Stell, Kenny Ford, Cory Rogers, Kevin Dickinson, Wilford Barns, Ryan Dodson, Robert Ryan, Angelo Nales, Tom Kiernan, Greu, D.J., Mark Stuart and Scott Lukacs.
Snacks and beverages will be served, and there will be a prize drawing for a free painting. Ten free tattoos of the store's logo will also be offered.
* * *
Ybor City Tattoo Co. Art Show and Grand Opening
The new gallery opens with an exhibit of paintings and limited edition prints by local and international tattoo artists. Some of the artists will be on hand to talk about their work; refreshments and prizes available (while they last). It's from 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday at 1730 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. (813) 443-0706. yborcitytattoocompany.com.