2016 Movers & Shakers - Nicole Royse

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: People Issue: September 2016
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By day: devoted Chandler wife and mom of three, shuttling kids to and from school and extracurriculars. By night: Downtown Phoenix art gallery curator/manager, arts advocate, artist and gal about town. Of course, those time-of-day demarcations don’t exist – Nicole Royse is all of those things at all times, blending her work and family lives the way she blends hues on her palette for her own acrylic paintings that focus on abstraction of form (see her work at nicoleroyse.com).   

As curator of Shade Projects at Wayne Rainey’s monOrchid co-working space in the Roosevelt Row Arts District, she meets with artists to plan exhibitions between school drop-off and pick-up, manages social media from home, physically sets up exhibitions and even brings her kids – Connor, 7, Drake, 6, and Ava, 4 – to First Fridays, when monOrchid’s Shade Gallery and Bokeh Gallery draw 3,000-4,000 visitors each month.

“I patch, I paint, I sand, I hang, I promote, I write the press releases, I do the sales and all that stuff related to it,” she says, putting her degree in art history and her business and marketing background to work on each project. “On top of it, I showcase everybody” else in the arts community in her culture writing for local publications Arizona Foothills, YabYum Music & Arts blog, North Valley magazine and AZCulture.com. “I travel the Valley with my kids going to all different shows, museums, galleries. I want to support the whole Valley, not just what I’m doing. I love what I’m doing, but I like to promote everybody.”

It’s paying off: In the past four years, Royse has seen a marked change in art patrons in the Valley – on First Fridays alone. “People have really stopped to look at the art, versus when I first started they would kind of parade through and go to the next thing. Now they’re actually looking,” Royse says. “They might hate it, they might love it, but they’re really looking and engaging with the art and the artists. It’s great to see that interaction happening.”