What is your professional title, purpose or passion?
For the past ten years I’ve been a curator, arts writer and event planner. Helping artists was my life, but now I’ve delved more into art history. I’ve segued into focusing more on writing more as of late. I signed with Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency and with Running Press Books.
What did you want to do when you were a child and what changed?
When I was a kid I wanted to be an archaeologist, then a photographer (I got my Bachelors degree in Photography). Times and technology changed, so I had to change with it. I always knew I’d land in New York, and I guess my career is still kind of relevant to my childhood dreams- I am not an artist but I’ve worked with hundreds over the years and spend a lot of time studying art history. I may not be on archaeological digs, but I’ve dedicated a lot of my life to digging up history.
What's the best career advice you've ever been given?
Just say no! After being fired and bullied from my gallery job in 2009, I went out on my own. I think because I was so traumatized. Anyway, I spent WAY too many years saying yes to basically any project or gig, because I thought I had to in order to remain relevant. Same goes for being underpaid, I was afraid if I said no then the opportunities would cease. This is totally not the case- saying no (or saying you need to be paid more) will not just save a lot of stress, but also protects others in your industry from being underpaid.
What is the best thing about your current working environment?
Well, my coworking club shut down, so in Covid times I’ve been working from home. I guess the best thing is I get to wear my pajamas?
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
I spend a lot of time in Paris (well, not this year…sigh), and the goal is to buy a place in France. In five years I hope to have a few more books out.
Tell us more about a charitable organisation or project you think is great.
The Lower East Side Girls Club in Manhattan. They are incredible!
What drives you?
I never got another “real” job because my creative needs are a bit all over the place. I didn’t want to be limited by the confines of one job description, and that is definitely my driving force- to fulfil all of my creative needs.
Any final comments?
A lot of us have been finding it hard to focus during this weird time of Covid. We need to not be so hard on ourselves, this is an unprecedented time, I try to not guilt myself for what I didn’t do today, but instead what I did. Sometimes mental health is more important than productivity.
What does a normal day look like for you?
Let’s talk about pre-covid, because things have certainly changed! I live in and love New York, so in a typical day, I try to absorb some of its energy and history. Mornings are usually spent writing at home in Brooklyn, then I’ll head to the city and usually try to combine lunch with a meeting- we all have to eat! Afternoons I go to my coworking club for more work, then usually a meeting over drinks or an opening or event. I try to go to at least one museum a week, and have one day of wandering aimlessly for inspiration. I’ve reached the point in my life where I want to work less instead of hustle harder, so mixing work with free time is important to me.
What have you achieved that you feel most proud of?
Personally- I donated my left kidney to a friend in October of 2018! It’s wild to think someone is walking around with a part of me inside them….
Professionally, my next book is basically the paper equivalent of me. Its all about art history and combing New York for remnants of the past, which is basically what I do for fun. It’s called Art Hiding in New York: An Illustrated Guide to the City’s Secret Masterpieces, and its being published by Running Press/Hachette on September 22, 2020. It was illustrated by my friend Maria Krasinski, who I met when we were nine years old, and whom I have travelled the world with. It is really the pinnacle of my whole life and it’s wild that it is coming to the public soon. Here’s a link Oh my god and I almost forgot (?!!) I co-curated an art exhibition at The White House during the Obama administration. Why do I keep forgetting that?
Tell us about a a woman who inspires you
I’ve been lucky enough to know many self-starting women in the arts and creative industries. One in particular is Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, an incredible writer and educator. She’s way younger than me but I still look up to her like a mentor. I took one of her writing workshops during the darkest time of my life, I had just donated my kidney then my dad died. The karmic irony sent me into a year long funk that Jessica help to revive me from- she’s brilliant and resilient and has crafted this incredible life for herself- you’ve definitely written something she wrote somewhere, and she balances that with being an incredible teacher as well. Her class and positive energy helped me to get my shit together, write my book and gave me the confidence to approach my now agent.
What was your biggest failure?
I regret under pricing my writing and undervaluing myself for years. It took me way too long to realize my professional worth, it is definitely the biggest failure of my life.
What do you like most about yourself?
My stubbornness. I vowed I would never work for someone ever again, and because I’m so darn stubborn, I’ve stuck with it.
How can we make the world more inclusive and accepting?
Listen to each other. Fight that urge to contradict. Eliminate the “me first” attitude. I am a liberal Democrat and I donated my kidney to a staunch Republican. We don’t agree on many things, but at our cores we care about each other and other people.
What skills have been key to your journey so far?
Honestly, being friendly has been extremely important. Making genuine connections with people, helping others, building trust, and creating a circle of support. It’s no fun rising to the top on your own!