As you’ve probably heard, St. Pete Pride canceled the parade this year due to COVID-19. But what about all those satellite events?
Ever since Chad Mize opened his new gallery in St. Petersburg’s historic Uptown neighborhood in 2018, I’ve looked forward to his annual Pride art show. It started with “Pride and Joy” in 2018, which I affectionately described as full of glitter and rainbows. That same year, John Gascot curated dual LGBTQ-themed arts show at Cider Press Café and Emerald Bar in St. Pete. Also in 2018, the Morean Arts Center hosted its first pride-themed pop-up art show. It was kind of a banner year for LGBTQ artists in St. Pete.
Don’t Ask. Do Tell.
June 19-July 5
689 Dr. MLK Jr. St. N., St. Petersburg.
While many galleries struggled to host art shows online under Florida’s stay-at-home orders, MIZE Gallery had a virtual presence from the beginning. If you hop onto the MIZE Gallery website, you'll see online documentation of Mize-curated exhibitions dating back to 2010, when he was at Blue Lucy.
While we stayed safe at home in April and May, Mize added another aspect to his online presence, conducting virtual tours of MIZE Gallery exhibits and broadcasting them online via Facebook Live.
"It's actually been pretty successful," Mize told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. "We sold like 12 pieces from each show, so people are responding positively. Even when we get back to a somewhat normal state, I'm probably still going to be doing those virtual experiences, because I’ve been tapping into a broader range of people.”
By the time June rolled around, and local galleries started re-opening, Mize was ready.
"With the curation process, we call for the art months prior…so the artists are already working on their pieces at this point,” Mize told CL.
Twenty-one artists are participating in “Don’t Ask. Do Tell.”: Saumitra Chandratreya, Christian Cortes, Perry deVick, Santiago Echeverry, Cole Foust, Jay Hoff, Chad Jacobs, Lucky LeRoy, Diran Lyons, Cake Marques, Michael McGrath, Spencer Meyers, Chad Mize, Juliane Montoya, Andrea Pawlisz, Kurt Piazza, Gabriel Ramos, Matthew Schlagbaum, Justin Sears, Dylan Todd, and Angela Warren. About half of these artists, recruited by the show’s co-curator, Kurt Piazza, have never shown at Mize Gallery before.
"I was thrilled when Chad asked me to co-curate his annual Pride show,” Piazza said in a statement. “He was familiar with my background as a curator and wanted me to bring some of the LGBTQ+ artists I’ve worked with and who haven’t shown at Mize before. Likewise, as an artist who identifies as LGBTQ+, he also invited me to show my own work.”
Finally, after three months of showing work online, Mize feels like he’s ready to host “Don’t Ask. Do Tell.” with weekend gallery hours—on Saturdays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. If you plan on visiting the gallery in-person, Mize recommends wearing a mask.
“And be creative with your mask,” he added.
Technically, COVID-19 hasn’t gone anywhere, which is why Mize isn’t hosting an opening reception for “Don’t Ask. Do Tell.” Staggered gallery visits over a month-long period are much safer than a crowded opening reception where everyone arrives at once.
It’s been a bad year for America. African American communities are grieving the loss of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor due to police brutality. The LGBTQ community is watching the Trump administration quietly try to roll back gay rights by re-defining sex discrimination to exclude LGBTQ individuals (Right now they’re trying to deny healthcare to LGBT individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic). And everyone is still doing their best to cope with COVID-19 in the absence of a vaccine. A Pride art show couldn’t possibly be an antidote to all the horrible shit that’s happening in our country right now, but it’s a much-needed bright spot.
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