ST. PETERSBURG — After five years and 54 art exhibitions, Chad Mize is closing his St. Petersburg gallery in Historic Uptown. The last day to visit Mize Gallery is December 23.
“I’ve been in business for five years and my lease was five years,” said Mize. “I could keep doing it, and I’m not closing because I’m getting kicked out or because I can’t afford the space. It’s more about resetting my life, taking a break, just because I’m so busy with my own work as an artist.”
Mize said he is a “five year old” man, and that was the basis of his previous gallery, Blue Lucy.
“I feel that even if you do it right, sometimes you have to break the cycle, like your rituals … My vision is to maybe get bigger in time and go to the next level.”
He says he will take a year or two off, but will still curate other people’s spaces.
The latest exhibition at Mize is ‘Friend’, with the relationship-themed work of Mize’s friends. It runs from November 4-20. On December 3, he opens Stuff & Things & Stuff, his annual Christmas showcase of artist-made gift items and ornaments.
Over the years, Mize has edited every aspect of the gallery — coming up with exhibition themes, calling artists, and installing the shows — pretty much alone. He credits artist Andrea Pawlisz as his right-hand man for her help with installations and for staffing the gallery when Mize was otherwise stuck.
He rejoices in the freedom he gets when he doesn’t have to be at the gallery every weekend. He will be able to focus on assignments for his murals and design work, and he will have time to travel and be available for assignments outside the area.
His merchandise—T-shirts, stickers, and paintings—continue to be sold on his website and at Neat Neat Neat St. Pete, which is adjacent to the gallery. He also gets more time to refresh the product line.
There are plans for Uptown Eats—located across the gallery and owned by Mize’s fiancée, Dan Schmidt—to expand into the gallery’s space. Mize will probably host art exhibitions in the restaurant and has an idea to hold sketch evenings there.
The shutdown at the start of the pandemic created a new business model for Mize, who continued to hold art shows where he would shoot photos and videos, go live on social media and put the artworks on his website. It turned out to be a success, so he continued it even after he was able to return to personal openings.
He will continue to represent the artist Ales “Bask” Hostomsky, posting his new paintings online and on social media monthly. Bask — who has murals across the country and whose artwork can be seen in the movie “Iron Man 3” — approached Mize earlier this year to represent his work.
“I feel like this is a new model that I could focus on by not having brick and mortar, because you don’t need one,” said Mize.
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Despite opportunities on the horizon, Mize is feeling a little bittersweet about closing the gallery.
“It’s been a great source of community. That’s what for me it was about having the space, building a community. Showcasing emerging artists with established artists… seeing them collaborate. Many of my friends I haven’t seen in a while come to the gallery because they know where to find me. And so that has been a great thing.”
He appreciates the support of the community over the years.
“I’ll be back,” he said.
if you go
Mize Gallery. Free. Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-2pm. 689 dr. Martin Luther King Jr St. N. chadmize.com.