In an homage to heat, coastal life, bikinis and mythical creatures, MIZE Gallery dedicated its entire studio space to a Sunshine State-themed exhibit, The Art of All Things Florida.
Chad Mize, owner of MIZE Gallery, took to Facebook Live for the collection’s debut on Friday, May 7.
“It’s really colorful, fun, inspired by our colorful state, our crazy state,” Mize said from his gallery at 689 Dr MLK Jr St.
The works all reflect some aspect of America’s swampiest state, from urban legends to glamorously painted mobile homes.
As contributing artist Rhys Meatyard puts it, the Sunshine State is “bountiful with fruit, but scary as hell.”
The St. Petersburg-based artist created a Jack Nicholson-inspired sun that spins on top of a wood panel, decoupaged with layers of aging nautical maps of Florida.
“It’s both amazing and terrifying, living here, and I really wanted to capture that in art form,” Meatyard said. “The sun is brutal and nature (and/or Florida Man) is often trying to kill us, but it’s also beautiful and full of life and fruit.”
Gulfport bronze and copper welder and artist Eric Folsom, has a more traditional outlook on the state that gallery viewers can feel in his hanging fixture, simply titled “Clouds. Birds. Gulf Horizon.”
His piece, a bronze and copper mobile dancing with delicately welded pelicans, Portuguese man o’ wars, and Mexican-style sun is reminiscent of a classic beachside sunset.
“When I look out toward the west, I feel very small and very fortunate to see such sights,” Folsom said. “I’m always inspired to keep looking out.”
Folsom’s been working with these materials for 48 years, ever since he moved to Washington, D.C. at 20 and picked up the art while living on a commune and working as a bicycle deliveryman.
“I was drawn to metals because they’re ancient – some pieces are 3,000 years old,” Folsom said. “It shapes beautifully, and I always liked how it felt.”
Baltimore transfer Wyatt Eddy took the Floridian prompt and drove it 360 degrees, his batik-and-acrylic piece pays homage to the Skunk Ape, the elusive swamp critter that stands in as Florida’s Sasquatch.
“I started thinking of the Skunk Ape as a Florida native, and about how there is no proof of its existence. What would he look like? How has he evaded capture?” Eddy said.
Instead of slinking into the shadows, Eddy’s take on the state’s mysterious cryptid is posing and proud.
The Art of All Things Florida is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through May 30. More at chadmize.com.