Chad Townson wears many hats. He is a chainsaw and metal sculptor, a furniture maker, a gallery owner and most recently — partnering with local artist Joe Judy — the co-founder of a new local art show, Mid City Rising.
Nearly a decade ago, Townson helped put on a small pop-up show, Stabbed in the Art, in Baton Rouge. Although the show was smaller in scale, it propelled Townson to pursue a similar project in the future once the space and resources allotted for it, he said.
Less than a year ago, these requirements were fulfilled when Townson and Judy opened the triple threat they call The Collective, their own art studio, workshop and gallery. They wanted to create a space that satisfied the needs of their wide-ranging artistic skill set, and The Collective did just that.
On any given day, The Collective may function as a welding studio, a chainsaw studio, the birthplace to the latest piece of handmade furniture or all three. Contractors and artists are constantly coming in and out of the space, making its name all too fitting.
Remembering the promise he made to himself to give back to his community once he obtained his own space, Townson did not wait long to fulfill his commitment. He and Judy opened the parking lot to The Collective in April — a few months after its opening - for the first Mid City Rising, complete with the staples of any solid festival: live music, live art and food.
The collaborative spirit of The Collective shines through in Mid City Rising. Though Townson and Judy are the founders and organizers of the show, Mid City Rising is undeniably a community effort.
The Radio Bar on Government Street sponsors the event, providing free alcohol. The live artists and musicians all participate for free, giving the atmosphere of an “art party,” Townson said.
The recent growth of Mid City and all its new businesses has brought along an influx of art shows and pop-ups. However, edge is what separates Mid City Rising from the rest.
The bands at Mid City Rising all play original music and range from heavy metal to alternative to country. As the show grows and attains more sponsors, Townson hopes to get bigger artists and build a stage.
The audio entertainment is not limited to music as the show features spoken word poetry and soon, comedy and an MC, Townson said.
The art in the show as well as the gallery mirrors this edge. When describing the pieces displayed, Townson used the words “surreal”, “cutting-edge,” “dark” and “eclectic.”
In part, this edge is manufactured by the event’s founders. Townson comes from a military background and likes to portray a toughness in his art, particularly through strong lines and tribal themes.
Mid City Rising takes place on the last Saturday of every month and is free to the public and open to children and pets. For the upcoming September installment, Townson is planning a live carving along with chainsaw artist Burt Fleming.
Although the event continues to grow, Townson’s goal remains the same.
“Honestly, I just want the other artists to thrive,” he said.