Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice: Rise Up Gallery Finds Art in Injury


Courtesy of Knight Foundation/Charles Trainor
Courtesy of Knight Foundation/Charles Trainor

The Knight Arts Challenge South Florida 2015 People’s Choice Awards nominees are live. The community can vote now through November 17 via text message for one of four selected Knight Arts Challenge finalists to receive $20,000 to fund their projects. It’s a text-to-vote campaign: pick your favorite group, and text their code to 22333. Of the 73 finalists, the four People’s Choice nominees are small, emerging groups from different parts of South Florida, all working to make the region a better place to live.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes those bad things are life-altering injuries that make one call into question such basic notions as hope and purpose. When David McCauley dove head first into a friend’s pool in the summer of 2008 and suffered a C6 spinal injury, his new existence as a quadriplegic could have taken a dark turn. Instead, after he was introduced to art therapy during a grueling four months of rehab, he saw a colorful outlook on the horizon.

McCauley made the transition from the hard capitalism of Wall Street to a philanthropic life dedicated to helping others who had endured traumas similar to his. In 2010, he founded a nonprofit organization, Rise Up to Cure Paralysis, in New Jersey. Two years later, he headed south and headquartered Rise Up in Miami Beach. However, the heart of the program is the Rise Up Gallery exhibition space in Little Haiti in a former laundromat.

Rise Up Gallery is completely volunteer based, funded through the sale of artwork done by its residents, donations, and, of course, grants such as the Knights Art Challenge. This year Rise Up is one of the four finalists, out of over more than 1,000 submissions, in the competition. The Knights Art Challenge only has three simple requirements of its applicants: the idea must be focused around, it benefits South Florida, and that additional funding is found to match the Knight Foundation grant.

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