Features September 2016

Mom, Wife and Shades Project Curator

By: Jodi Hale

Visit the monOrchid in downtown Phoenix on the first and third Friday of any given month, and you will find Nicole Royse, married mother of three, hosting separate receptions in honor of two different artists whose works are on exhibit. The Shades Project Curator at the monOrchid, Nicole has been running its two art galleries for almost four years. “The monOrchid is a wonderful co-working space in the heart of the Roosevelt Row Arts District,” said Nicole. “It houses two beautiful galleries – Shade Gallery and Bokeh Gallery – which I feature monthly exhibitions in while showcasing both local and national artists in all mediums.”


Nicole’s children – Connor (7), Drake (6) and Ava (4) – are regular fixtures at the art gallery, as is her husband of 14 years, Robb. The kids enjoy watching as their mom holds meetings with artists and even get to help when she installs exhibitions. They also accompany Nicole and her husband to the monOrchid for the receptions on First and Third Fridays, watching the shows then leaving early for “Daddy time” with Robb. “My three children and my husband all really love and enjoy that I curate at the monOrchid,” said Nicole. “My husband is very supportive of my work in the arts and enjoys all the activities it entails.” Her children, she added, are also thrilled whenever she gets to exhibit her own artwork beyond just their home.

Raised primarily by her grandparents, Nicole’s creative journey into the art world began at a young age. “I dealt with a lot chaos and instability with my parents, both of whom suffered from severe addictions,” said Nicole. “Art was my escape and a safe place where I could create and be happy.” Experimenting first with drawing and the exploration of colors, Nicole eventually turned her talents to painting. “I was drawn to painting,” she explained, “due to the ability to blend and layer paint, the vibrancy of colors and the organic nature of painting itself.”


Nicole and her grandparents moved from Orange County, California to the Valley when she was still in high school. After graduating, she worked in real estate and property tax in order to put herself through college at ASU. It wasn’t until after she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History, and was married with kids, that Nicole finally took the necessary steps to utilize all of her skills and her degree to help the arts and forge her own path. She credits her grandmother, Maxine Bertich, for being “a true inspiration and shining light in my life. I treasure the life that I have and am so very blessed on many levels.”

In addition to her work at the monOrchid, Nicole is the Visual Arts Editor of YabYum Music & Arts and a freelance writer, covering the art scene across the Valley for various publications. “I am focused on building the careers of local artists, educating patrons, and overall arts advocacy and promotion of Arizona arts,” said Nicole. She also feels strongly about the importance of offering children a diverse education in both the arts and sciences in a way that engages their minds. As for the cuts being made to art programs across the country? “This is incredibly sad and unfortunate because it provides children with such joy while boarding their imaginations and training their brains to think in new and exciting ways.”

When she is not getting ready for an exhibition or writing an article for the local art scene about up-and-coming artists, Nicole finds herself hopping between school and sports with her kids. “As a mother of three kids we stay very active,” said Nicole. “We are always on the go, and that’s how we like it!” She also enjoys biking around her neighborhood, hiking and swimming, as well as checking out museums and other galleries with her family in her spare time (yes, she has spare time!).


When asked if motherhood has slowed her down or changed the course she envisioned for herself, Nicole replied that, if anything, she has taken on more. “Being a wife and mother has been absolutely incredible. As a mother, I am more determined than ever to work hard setting a good example and to make my children and husband proud.” And, her secret to balancing it all? “I am an extremely organized person, big on keeping to the schedule and routines,” she said. “This, however, is not my art side when painting, which is spontaneous and organic!”!”

You can find Nicole (and her family!) at the monOrchid galleries, open daily from 8-5 p.m., with receptions on First Friday 6-10 p.m. and Third Friday 6-9 p.m. every month.

Next Exhibition: Shade Projects is proud to present “What Happens in Between,” the solo exhibition of Kris Manzanares in Shade Gallery at the monOrchid, September 2 through September 19. Visit the website for more information at monorchid.com.

Jodi Hale

Jodi Hale is an editorial/advertising assistant for North Phoenix Family Magazine as well as a freelance writer. The mother of three amazing boys ages 7, 12 and 14, she has served on the PTA board of their school for more than 7 years, collaborating with teachers, staff and community members to enrich the learning environment for all students through positive and engaging educational experiences. Jodi also volunteers as a public relations specialist for Musical Theatre of Anthem, promoting the theater’s year-round training opportunities and award-winning productions. She loves reading, free-hand drawing, creating props, and raising her boys to embrace life with purpose.

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