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.