I am 100% a believer in all the corniest, most cliché quotes about “everything happens for a reason”. I like to speak things into existence, I try to manifest my wants, and think the law of attraction is a real thing. Obviously I have no solid proof of any of this but I do have my stories and my stories are real.

SHINE mural festival

Last October the annual SHINE St. Petersburg Mural Festival 2021 was underway. Having lived in Pinellas County for 2 years I had only learned of the Shine Festival back in 2019. Last year I was determined to follow all the festival events and make it a point to see as many of the murals and exhibits as possible.

One of the exhibits for Shine Year 7 was being held at the Mize Gallery. The exhibit consisted of 71 different artists and it was a show I couldn’t allow myself to miss. I had heard of the Mize Gallery and was always impressed with the variety of shows that were put on throughout the year. It seemed to me that any artist who was anybody in St. Pete had shown at Mize. I felt like it was the perfect place for my art to one day be seen so off I went to the opening night.

With my husband and brother-in-law in company I was determined to not only spend a substantial amount of time studying each piece, but also to meet the gallery owner himself. By this point I had done my research and found out a man by the name of Chad Mize owned the gallery and that I was already a fan of his work! I had no idea the artist I had been following for some time was also the owner and curator of this immensely popular gallery. I was on a mission from that point forward to get on his artist call list.

Overcoming awkwardness, fear of rejection, and all that jazz

I need to make it a point in this story that I BARELY knew/know any other artists here in St. Pete. It’s not like I could arrive at Mize and just strike up a convo with friends and ask where the gallery owner was. I didn’t know anyone and I definitely didn’t know who Chad was or where he would be in the chaos of a packed opening night. An instagram photo can only give you so many clues as to what a person may look like but there I was, cellphone in hand, trying to tie a face in a photo to a face that may be somewhere in the crowd.

My husband and brother-in-law were excruciatingly making fun of me. I admit I was pretty easy to make fun of. Watching me navigate an event trying to find a gallery owner through awkward interactions and stalker-like tactics made for some good jokes that night. I was interjecting conversations asking random people if they knew where this Chad was. While everyone was super nice and in good spirits I was a nervous wreck. I mistakenly thought some man everyone was talking to was the person I had spent most of my night looking for and that was a little embarrassing. I had lost a little hope. I was about to call it a night and just go home until my husband turned to me and said, “Are you gonna find him or what? Do you want to be in his gallery or not?”

Mission complete

Damnit he was right. If I really wanted to be in this art game I needed to pull my big girl pants up and just go for it, fear or no fear. I told myself if I could conquer all the awkwardness of the night- talking to strangers and introducing myself to the wrong person- then I could possibly leave here being on the artists’ call email list. I walked right back into the gallery one more time, and sure enough found myself with Mr. Chad himself. I gave him my short intro blurb, he introduced himself, and he passed along his card with the email to submit my work. I HAD DONE IT! I walked out of the show with my head held high and proud that I overcame another fear. I was just so happy that I had even introduced myself to a gallery owner. All of the weirdness subsided and I was ready to email my portfolio submissions the next day. It didn’t matter as much if I was going to get a call back for a show because I did what I said I set out to do and that was enough for me. It meant I could do it again and again.

The happenstance

Tell me why exactly one month later it had been announced that I received the Emerging Artist’s Grant and that my mentor would be- wait for it- Chad Mize. I just can’t make these things up. I literally laughed on the phone so loud that my grandmother sitting next to me jumped. Here I had just tortured myself to get through the SHINE exhibit with my face still on and now I was going to get real one and one time with the artist. Things. Happen. For. A. Reason. I’m telling you that the universe works in mysterious ways. The pairing of my mentor couldn’t be more perfect for me. Was it coincidence that Chad became my grant mentor, or did I help manifest it? I’ll never have the proof but I’ll always have this story.


Follow me on Instagram: sketzii

Follow Chad on Instagram: chadmize

Visit my website at sketzii.com

Visit Chad’s website at: chadmize.com

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