Tag Archives: Elinore Schnurr

Elinore Schnurr goes from artist to curator in LIC

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


After 52 years as a painter in New York City, Elinore Schnurr has a new profession in the art world—curator.

And her experience as an artist helped her land the gig.

She has been renting studio space in Long Island City from Diego Salazar for over 20 years. When he decided to move his antique frame business from his building at 21-25 44th Avenue and open an art gallery in its place, he knew Schnurr should curate it.

“She is a wonderful artist and is truly the perfect person to help with the show,” he said.

The inaugural exhibit, which opened in May, features 30 artists that have studios in the same building that houses the gallery, including Schnurr.

“It was just so much fun to go around and see [the work] other people were doing,” she said.

Schnurr moved into her current art studio a year-and-a-half ago. Previously, she rented a loft at another of Salazar’s buildings for two decades. Then, when he sold that building, she moved to a studio in Greenpoint for five years. When that building was sold, she again rented from Salazar.

On September 20 the gallery will have a Latin American show, featuring local emerging and established artists, with another curator.

But Schnurr will curate the next show, which opens at the end of October, featuring longtime Long Island City resident and painter Arthur Hammer, who passed away in March, and a holiday show with mostly artists from Long Island City, including some from the gallery’s first exhibit.

She will also likely continue to curate shows for the gallery on an ongoing basis.

What’s interesting about being a curator, said Schnurr, is seeing art on the other side.

“I’ve always been asking to show my work and now, here, I am asking other people to show their work, and there’s a different dynamic,” she said.

Passionate about painting since she was 10 years old, Schnurr attended the Cleveland Institute of Art. A post college trip to Europe further inspired her to become a figurative painter.

She moved to New York City in 1960, which was the right and wrong place to pursue that style of painting.

“I was quite fascinated by the movement of the people on the street. I always painted people on the street or in bars and cafes, places that were public,” said Schnurr. “I painted them in a way that expressed a certain disconnectedness between them,” she continued.

Though New York City was full of “disconnected people” to paint, the art scene was not initially accepting of figurative painting.

But in the late 70s the market changed, and she started selling her work.

For the past six years Schnurr has been working on a series called “Outside Looking In.” A little more abstract than her previous work, the paintings depict the various reflections in the windows that look onto Times Square. Some of those pieces are currently on exhibit at LaGuardia Community College’s Atrium Lobby Showcase Gallery East.

The artists in her building, like her, are established professionals that don’t fall into one of the two categories of artists that frequently have shows in New York City—big names with high-priced art, or younger, up-and-coming artists recently out of school who show at smaller galleries.

Older, established artists that never made it to the high money market, but are talented need a chance to show their work, said Schnurr.

Filling that gap is what she wants to accomplish as a curator, while showcasing Long Island City’s artist community.

Time to Create: Artist Violet Baxter paints L.I.C.

| smosco@queenscourier.com


Art is comprised mainly of two elements: time and raw materials. While the art itself is physically constructed with materials – paint, clay, trash, whatever – it is time that decides whether or not the art lives on. Prehistoric people decided to paint on cave walls, and time decided to preserve that work for modern eyes.

Contrary to the process in which art becomes art, an artist becomes an artist through a mix of sheer will and talent. If the artist relies on time, they’ll be left with a blank canvas and a pile of unpaid bills.

Artist Violet Baxter grew up as a shy, yet promising youngster in the Bronx. Her grade school teachers noticed her talents and saw fit to recommend she take art classes on Saturdays. A fourth grade teacher, Evelyn Licht, befriended the young Baxter and helped her score her first “art job” – designing cake boxes on weekends when she was 13 years old.

“We stayed close until her death,” said Baxter, whose studio resides in the Wills Building on 21st Street. “She was responsible for my first job and my first gallery exhibitions.”

An educated and trained artist, Baxter graduated from high school and went on to Hunter College for two years of night classes. She graduated with honors from the Cooper Union Art School after five years of night classes and continued her schooling at Columbia University studying under renowned American artist Ralph Mayer.

In 1983, she took a studio in Union Square, where she stayed until skyrocketing rents drove her to L.I.C.

“Here my windows face a new school called Mason Tenders Training, highways that lead to the Queensboro Bridge, the El train, Silvercup Studios with its sign and a wide sky,” she said. “This is my subject matter. I have made closely observed drawings of this view, that sets it somewhat in memory. From the drawings I made watercolors and oils.”

Baxter said that she doesn’t know what the finished work will look like when she begins a piece. Again, time decides the finished project.

“It can take a long time to resolve a painting, sometimes years,” she said. “It is put aside until I can see if there is something else for it. There are always paintings around my studio in this state.”

The state of Baxter’s ideal painting studio lends to the reflective quality of her work. She seeks a quiet place with a view to achieve the quiet, contemplative narrative revealed in her paintings.

“I keep in touch with myself in my work. Like music, the themes are within the work,” she said. “I need a block of time to get into the work. It starts with problems to solve and at some point time dissolves. I often work at night – night light and self reflections, outside and inside, are what interests me.”

Among LIC artists, Baxter is most interested in Elinore Schnurr, Juvenal Reiss, Karen Fitzgerald and her new friend, Orestes Gonzalez. She feels one of the most important galleries in L.I.C. is the Jeffrey Leder Gallery. Her paintings were shown there through last season, and much of her work will be on exhibit in the upper gallery beginning Sunday, February 19, with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m. continuing through Sunday, March 11.

Baxter will continue to share her view and present images in the hopes her work will resonate with viewers. Her hard work – and the hard work of her influences – continues to payoff tenfold. Now she works with time to see her vision through.

“I have hundreds of influences, mostly artists from prehistoric time to the present, from nonobjective to representation,” she said. “My interests are with painting, as a personal touch of the hand. A drawing on a mammoth tusk seen at the Museum of Natural History still resonates, and reaches out through millennia.”