Art Seen


A Look at the Other Side of the Art World

By Lori Zimmer

March 2012

Curators and gallerists are not just the dollar behind exhibitions, but often the creative force that help shape an artist or show. Many are art history scholars, communicating their creativity by creating a dialogue between others’ paintings and pieces, enticing the viewer to think about an artwork differently when juxtaposed with another piece. True, many just hang art on walls, but the good ones are fueled by their passion for art, wanting the world to see what they see, and dedicating their lives to fostering the careers of the artists they deem to be special.

For our arts issue, I chatted with some of these orchestrators, both independent curators and gallery owners, to get their perspectives on the benefits or drawbacks of each, and their inspirations to show the world art works they hold dear.

Like many inspiring ladies I know, Natalie Trainor has her hands in many areas of the art world. To feel fulfilled in this world is to almost create chaos around yourself, transferring your passion and inspirations to many varying projects that cover the bases of curating, writing, advising and organizing. This feeling of being all over the place is the life of an independent curator, and no one makes it look as flawless as Natalie. Her recent pop-up, Fuck Fear Phobia brought together a group of artist who made work responding to their fears–from bats to Danielle Riecher’s highly personal video which featured the nude artist cradling an ice sculpture of a woman she nearly killed in a car accident until it melts.

Natalie takes the definition of curating seriously, bringing it back to the idea of cohesively relating a multitude of art works in an intelligent way, rather than just slapping together a group of pieces by artists you happen to know and calling it a “group show.” She also asserts her educated opinion with her blog Sharkbiting, in which she reviews art and artists around the globe.

Lori Zimmer: What do you like about curating shows in pop-up spaces?

Natalie Trainor: The space is the manipulative for some shows, this is a fun element to work with for exhibitions. Hunting for the space is also exciting. You get to experience some real estate gems in NYC–places that you would not always expect an art show to be held.

LZ:  How are you inspired to curate shows? Do you work with a themes first, or base an idea around specific artists you want to work with?

NT: It changes from show to show, but mainly the shows I worked on in 2011 were thematic. However, this is not necessarily the case for all of the upcoming projects for 2012.

LZ: How often do you curate shows? What projects do you work on when you don’t have a show up?

NT: Every couple of months I’d say. When I’m not working on a show or event I run an art program at a District 75 school in Brooklyn, keep up with the art world via my blog Sharkbiting, and consult and manage artists.

LZ: Would you ever open a permanent gallery of your own?

NT: I think about this often, the idea sounds lovely and inviting, but also inhibiting and static. I love how the environment is always changing with pop-up spaces––this includes the neighborhood, the space itself, and the audience attending the show.

LZ: What projects do you have coming up?

NT: I’ll be working as a guest curator for new project in an uptown space, 27 Rue de Fleurus Gallery, come spring 2012. The space will promote emerging female artists in New York City and throughout the globe. In March, I’ll be co-curating a show/auction that will benefit the charity Young New Yorkers. The next Eleven Cubed art Happening is also in the works. For summer 2012, I’m currently in conversation about contributing to a mural project in Asbury Park, NJ, a charming place––a city by the sea.

Natalie Trainor is a New York City-based curator, writer, and arts wrangler.



Written by Lori Zimmer

Edited by Meaghan Coffey

Photography by Darnell Scott

Design by Marie Havens


Natalie Trainor, Photography by Darnell Scott

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