It’s official: Chad Mize is spreading the gospel of St. Pete. On May 15, no less a luminary than singer/songwriter Tori Amos tweeted a photo of herself walking towards the camera on a downtown street in Boston, where she had performed the previous night. “Thank you all so much for coming out to see us,” the piano-pounding rocker wrote.
In the crosswalk a few yards behind her stroll a man and a woman, casually-dressed pedestrians. The man, a bearded fellow in khaki shorts, is wearing a black T-shirt with the following in bold white letters:
Whenever this rather ubiquitous slogan includes that last city name, the shirt only came from one place: Chad Mize’s graphic brand, Chizzy. He makes those T-shirts.
“Four people sent me that within an hour of when it was posted,” the St. Petersburg artist and gallery owner laughs. “I don’t follow her, but I know her music. I think it’s awesome. I mean, it’s happened a couple other times, just not with famous people.
“But that was really cool. Just the fact that it was documented that way, and so many people saw it.”
Ironically, the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance gave Mize its Muse Award as the city’s “Arts Ambassador” in March.
Mize will leave for Orlando Monday to start work on a mural at Disney Springs, the former Downtown Disney entertainment and shopping destination. He was hired by the head of Disney Imagineering.
“They’re doing 22 international and national artists to create murals,” he explains, “and it’s going to go on throughout the year. I’m the very first artist creating. They just want diversity, so it’s a lot of different types of artists.”
He’ll paint a 9×11 mural. “I’m ecstatic to get this gig,” he says.
“The beauty of it is that they’re allowing each artist to create what they want. So there’s no reference to Disney characters. It’s not like a corporate job where you have to follow the rules. Of course, it can’t be offensive.
“But I’m doing my free-flow style for it. It’s going to be very colorful, and it’s going to reference some gay iconography. I’m kinda selected as the LGBTQI+ artist, for Pride Month.”
That, for Mize, is key. “Just at this moment in time, to be able to express myself, and leave my mark with my people, I’m really excited about that.”
For Pride Month, downtown St. Pete’s Mize Gallery will debut “Say Gay,” an exhibition by local artists of work that “speaks, screams, yells gay!” It opens June 10.
“The show itself doesn’t really deal with the ‘Say Gay’ bill,” Mize explains. “I wanted it to be more about selecting artists that identify that way and them creating a piece that is ultra-gay. That was what I proposed to each artist.
“Of course, the name has something to do with what’s going on.”
Mize will be at his gallery tonight for another exhibit opening – “Stay in Shape” features the work of 17 artists who were asked to create something inspired by shapes.
The reception is 6 to 9 p.m. at 689 Dr. MLK Street. “Stay in Shape” will run through June 5.