After a swimming accident in 2002 left him in a wheelchair, Chaz Southard, a life-long outdoorsman, looked for new ways to express his energy and passion for nature. More than a decade later, his love for painting has given others the opportunity to display their talents.
ArtBeyond, a one-of-a-kind art show at 80 City Square in Charlestown, MA, will be open through October, 2013. It is the brainchild of Chaz, with some help from family and friends, and will benefit the Travis Roy Foundation (TRF), who gave Chaz a grant for a new wheelchair after his accident. Chaz says the improved wheelchair has contributed greatly to his independence, and has been incredibly beneficial for his “hyper” personality.
Chaz began painting years ago – therapeutically, and as a side project to give gifts for family and friends. He had a gallery on the north shore, but wanted to impact a larger base of people in the Boston area. With the help of his cousin, and others involved in paralysis charities and fundraisers, Chaz was able to open the ArtBeyond show on June 18, 2013.
ArtBeyond features 11 artists who have faced challenges such as cancer, brain injuries, or others who have been affected by spinal cord injuries. “You can see their search for tranquility in their art,” Chaz says. “They’re stuck in the darkness and looking for a way to express their hurdles and the different pathways in the road that they have taken.” The artists’ pieces range from watercolor to sculptures to oil paintings; Chaz says he was overwhelmed at the exhibit’s beauty after finally seeing all of the art in the gallery together.
But what does he feel is the most fulfilling part of ArtBeyond? Aside from its beauty, and the fact that 30% of all proceeds from the gallery opening will go to the TRF, Chaz is thrilled that featured artists successfully sold some of their work.
“Not only are the sales helping the Travis Roy Foundation, but they are helping all of the individual artists, too, not only financially, but also by giving affirmation that their work has power. I can’t believe I was a part of that.”
Chaz says that it was especially nice to have Travis attend the opening. At most art exhibits, viewers just come in and out, but Travis, who has several pieces featured at the gallery, was able to speak to attendees and explain the story of the Foundation.
A handful of other featured artists were also able to attend the opening. “It was one of the more positive things I’ve ever been to,” Chaz says. “Everyone just seemed really happy to be there, and there was a really great vibe going. I know people will keep coming.”
Chaz is still actively painting, and ArtBeyond is a reason and motivation for him to keep doing so. Ultimately, he would like to raise funds that will go directly to research for spinal cord injuries. “The more pieces we sell, the more we can keep generating revenue for the TRF and their SCI research program.”
ArtBeyond will run from June 17 to October 4 at the McGladrey Art Gallery at 80 City Square, Charlestown, MA. The gallery is open to the public from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday or by appointment.