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MonOrchid Curator Nicole Royse's 5 Day-to-Day Essentials

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Nicole Royse wears many hats. She’s a writer, curator, former artist, mother of three, as well as a promoter, editor, and social media connoisseur.

Royse worked three jobs to put herself through college – earning a degree in art history from Arizona State University – and clearly that work ethic hasn’t changed much. As an artist who created abstract acrylic paintings, Royse participated in more than 60 shows in Arizona and California over the course of five years. In the process, she also married and had three kids: Connor, 7, Drake, 6, and 4-year-old Ava. When she was seven months pregnant with her youngest, she recalls thinking, “I’m done exhibiting my own art for a while.” She started curating at the monOrchid Creative Studios (also an event and wedding venue) in December 2012.

Now, as curator of Shade Gallery at monOrchid, Royse spends a lot of time in the Roosevelt Arts District for Third and First Fridays, and the rest of her time writing for AZFoothills Magazine, North Valley Magazine, and SoScottsdale, and serving as the visual arts editor of YabYum Music & Arts.

Though Royse doesn’t spend that much time on her own art anymore (“I’ll do the occasional painting, but a lot of my creative energy goes into making [Halloween] costumes now,” she says with a laugh), Royse still has a full schedule. She keeps to it, thanks to five day-to-day essentials.

“I have systems for everything,” Royse says. “I have a schedule that I keep, too.” She says she’s a big stickler for time, because she has three kids, who of course have their own schedules. In order to keep upcoming shows, article deadlines, and after-school activities like soccer, piano, and Spanish in order, Royse keeps her planner close, and her phone just a little bit closer.

“I do a lot of what I do from my phone,” says Royse, who relies on it to check e-mail, keep up with articles, and promote, share, and interact on social media, where she also posts plenty of photos and videos for monOrchid. She can also use her phone to be just what the device intended its users to be: mobile. She can be in the backyard with the kids, or on the gallery floor, getting something checked off. It's key, she says, “because I work everywhere.”

Curating at the monOrchid goes beyond picking out works that go on the walls. It involves getting the art up there, too. For this task, Royse totes her tool bag, which includes a hammer, patching material, brushes, and “literally all the tools needed to hang a show." She admits photographer and fellow monOrchid hand Christopher "Boats" OShana acts as some muscle, but also as a second pair of eyes on the displayed work. Royse also makes the title cards, and, unsurprisingly, painted her tool bag herself.

Read on for more of Royse's essentials.

MonOrchid is located in downtown Phoenix, but the Royse family resides in the East Valley suburb of Chandler. For dropping off and picking up kids, and practically living at the monOrchid during the week of First Friday, Royse has a white Dodge Durango to “get me downtown ... get my kids everywhere.” She says she’s grateful for the three rows, because she hates minivans. Plus, it's "a good utilitarian car" with "nice, big, black rims.” 

Her vehicle gets her to and from the East Valley along with other important things, like artwork and her children. She tries to keep her kids involved in the art scene, and they’re often at the gallery with her (though she prefers Third Friday with the family versus the busier First Friday). “I try to bring them as much as I can,” she says. “People know my kids; they’re the Royse kids.”

Background as an Artist
Royse has been a curator at monOrchid for four years. “I love monOrchid and what we do,” she says, "and [they're] not going anywhere.” And having experience as an artist on a personal level is ideal for the position, she says. “It gives me that perspective with helping artists with sales or interacting with other curators.” Royse says showcasing personal work can be of course intimidating for artists, especially if it’s their first show. “You’re nervous, and I know what that feels like because I’ve been in their shoes,” she says, “It’s great to be able to share that with them, and maybe give them a little help or a little guidance."

Her background may also help Royse appreciate the local and national artwork coming through the gallery. “I like seeing all kinds of art; that makes it more fun,” she says, adding, “I’ve dedicated so much time [to it], and I think art lifts people up.”

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