Royse Contemporary marks 5 years with ‘art party’ | Arts and entertainment

Nicole Royce had been curating galleries in downtown Phoenix for just over 15 years when she saw a better opportunity to reach local artists.

She knew that Old Town Scottsdale was known for its art galleries and weekly art walks, and decided to secure her own space on Marshall Way in July 2017.

“I’ve curated hundreds of shows, and I moved to Scottsdale from Phoenix because Phoenix has an art walk once a month and we have a weekly art walk,” Royce said. “So for (artists) to get their work out to collectors and be more visible, it was a better opportunity for them.”

She was also looking for a location that had a large viewing window that was close to some of the major attractions in Old Town.

“I was looking for the perfect space,” Royce said. “I wanted a good window and I wanted to be in the center of things.

“We have some wonderful restaurants and bars, and then we have a lot of galleries on the main stage that have been here for a long time and have a lot of history, so I wanted to be a part of that community.”

Since opening its doors five years ago, Royse has made a name for himself and his gallery by selling art created almost exclusively by artists who call Arizona home.

“The biggest thing is that people here in the valley want to have pieces made by artists who live here and want to know their history,” she said.

Although her intimate gallery offers a stark white wall that highlights the subtleties of each work that fills the space, Royce devised a more intimate way to sell her art.

She began loading her SUV with her collection of works and bringing them to clients’ homes so clients could see how the works would look on their walls.

When Royce had to close its doors in the early days of the pandemic, this sales method became especially resourceful.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, it gave people a good opportunity to deal with me because they were sick of looking at their regular walls or they were sick of what they had,” Royce said. “It kept the artists going because that’s how they made a living and that’s how they were able to keep making art.”

Royce also began to see an increase in the amount of art her main and visiting artists began to create as they found an increase in the amount of free time they had.

“Because they were at home and had none of the distractions of ordinary life, they were able to kind of go off in new directions, and many of them started a whole new series of works, which was pretty impressive — considering all the weirdness in the world,” said Royce.

Although it’s been more than two years since artists huddled in their homes and studios waiting for the world to return to normal and killing time experimenting with new techniques and media, Royce noticed some similar trends among local contemporary works that filled her gallery.

“There were some things with certain artists where they focused more on nature because they started getting out into nature more,” Royce said.

With most of this art on display since July 14, Royce plans to host a spectacular art party on August 26 to celebrate her gallery’s fifth anniversary and further showcase the art that makes up her Summer Spectacular show, which is her largest show to date, showcasing the works of 16 artists who work in media such as mixed media, photography, sculpture and textured paintings.

Paintings are also for sale and have sticker prices ranging from $300 to $5,000.

“The goal of my gallery is to get people excited about collecting to see that it’s affordable,” Royce said. “You can get great original art the same way you can go to Target or IKEA and buy a print, but I’d rather buy something original because it supports the artists and you’ll love it a lot longer because it is something that has a history behind it.

Although Royce hopes to clear some artwork from her walls and see more footfall in her gallery, Royce’s biggest hope for her celebration is to bring more attention to the work that local artists are creating.

“I want people to look and see what artists are doing here and understand that the arts are a vital part of our daily lives,” she said. “It brings us so much joy, it brings us together as a community and we understand each other better by watching it.”

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