For David Audet there is no better representation of Ybor City than the Cuban Sandwich. It's crunchy, salty, flavorful, steeped in history and, most importantly, mayo-free.
As a writer-historian-artist-teacher-carpenter, his fascination with Tampa's signature sandwich began long before this year's public scuffle between Tampa and Miami
over the Cuban's origins.
Following eviction from his Hyde Park apartment in 1991, Audet found himself roaming the streets of Ybor City looking for work. He came upon Gordon and Denise Myhre, current owners of Grownman Brand Studios
, prepping for a peculiar new art exhibit called The Cuban Sandwich Show in a space next to the former S. Agliano's & Sons Fish Co. Eager to participate, Audet rounded up some sculptures he'd built and dropped them off in his pickup truck.
Audet was so enamored by the concept of the show that he carried on the tradition, sporadically planning Cuban Sandwich Shows at various restaurants throughout Tampa. The last took place at the grand opening of the former Viva La Frida Cafe' Y Galeria in 2002.
Nine years later (in 2011) as executive director of the Artists & Writers Group
, Audet resurrected the show and transformed it into a month-long exhibition of artwork, live performances, informational seminars, poetry readings and mingling.
This year, the festivities -- postponed two months to take advantage of the buzz surrounding the Republican National Convention -- kick off August 1 at Grownman Brand Studios in Seminole Heights with the customary reading of Tampa poet laureate James E. Tokley, Sr
.'s "Epic of the Sandwich Cubano."
Audio of Tokley reading his most recent poem, the unpublished "Epic of the City of Tampa," will be featured in a Florida Museum of Photographic Arts
show from Aug. 12 to Aug. 31.
Running Aug. 3 through Aug. 30 is the centerpiece exhibit -- the Cuban Sandwich Show
-- at the Ybor City campus of Hillsborough Community College
Inside a collection of work from Tampa-based artists creates a labyrinth of constructed fabric walls and symbolic windows featuring pictures from Tampa photographer laureate Stephen Gregory that highlight recognizable urban locations such as the grafitti-laced alleys of Ybor City.
Storytelling, Literature, Cooking & More
No creative outlet goes untouched throughout the month -- whether you prefer the art of storytelling (Chusmeria de Ybor: Fables and Tales of Our Town, Aug. 5 at King Corona Cigar Lounge
in Ybor City), literature (Strange Fruit: Readings by Tampa Writers and Poets, Aug. 8 at Grownman Brand Studios), or cooking (Taste of the Cuban Sandwich, Aug. 18 at Ybor City's Cuban Club).
But if you're simply yearning for one last hurrah before the RNC rolls into town, look no further than the BBQ Block Party and Rooster Promenade on Aug. 19 at Al's Finger Licking Good Bar-B-Que in Ybor City.
A celebration of food, drinks, live music, rooster humor, fowl-related costumes and -- to top it all off -- a chicken calvacade led by an effigy of beloved deceased bird James E. Rooster
, cruising through the streets of Ybor in a red Baby Jogger purchased from the Salvation Army.
What better way to culminate a month of eclectic Tampa-focused art than a whimsical stroll across Ybor City's railroad tracks, tossing chicken feed and blowing into noise makers?
"We gotta lighten up around here," Audet says.
In The Spirit Of Collaboration
The show champions the process of collaboration. Any person in Tampa Bay, or even around the globe, could submit their work as long as it ties into the overall theme: Create a piece of art that relates to Tampa.
Funding is provided through an Ybor City Development Corporation
Special Event Co-Sponsorship grant given to applicants who intend to promote Tampa's culture, arts and local businesses.
Audet, a University of South Florida
film/photography graduate, hopes that hosting more events throughout Tampa -- in addition to Ybor City -- will encourage residents to get out of their comfort zones and explore their city.
"We all get stuck in our little neighborhoods." he says. "You take the same road everyday to wherever you're going and don't really see much of Tampa. I keep finding parts I haven't been to yet."
Matt Spencer, a University of South Florida grad, is a native Floridian who enjoys sharing his love for Patty Griffin, browsing produce stands, spending hours in record shops and gawking at the ice cream selection in grocery stores. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.