Lori Zimmer is a New York based writer, curator and creator of Art Nerd New York. She regularly contributes to an array of art sites, and is the author of “The Art of Cardboard: Big Ideas for Creativity, Collaboration, Storytelling, and Reuse.” Since February of 2015, Zimmer has been working with The White House as an advisor on their ACT/ART Committee, bringing contemporary art back into the forefront of public policy. Zimmer frequently curates pop up exhibitions, projects and events in the New York area, her recent projects include artist Mark John Smith at the Roger Smith, the Geeks for Peace charity event hosted by Morgan Spurlock and Kevin Smith, and a two person exhibition with Logan Hicks and Beau Stanton at the High Line Loft.
Marketing Coordinator Chris McCloskey and Lori spoke shortly after Art Basel to get her take on the art world, fairs, and condiments.
What did you do the night Whitney Houston died?
I was at Three of Cups and the bartender gave us free shots in memoriam. We added some Red bull because [it gives you wings].
I’ll be posting your bio on the blog to let people read a little bit about you, but I’d love it if you could tell us a little bit about yourself and your career trajectory?
After several years working as the sales director of a Chelsea Gallery, I knew I couldn’t work for anyone ever again. I began cobbling together a career based on my affinity for art history, New York City, and my belief to treat others fairly and kindly in the art world. Today, I combine writing, curatorial projects and advising artists to make my somewhat disjoined career. Honestly, my career trajectory is not entirely mapped out. I’m interested in writing more books, introducing more people to the art historical magic around them, and curate more exhibitions that leave visitors feeling as though they’ve experienced something.
For the last year you’ve been serving as a board member for ACT/ART, in partnership with the White House. How did you become involved and what are your primary goals as a member of the board?
I was invited to become part of the board by Daria Brit Greene, who serves as chair but is also Vice President of SCOPE Art Fair, and initiated by Carri Twigg from the White House office of the First Lady. Our goal was to bring art and artists into contemporary issues, as a way to reach out to not only young people, but to spark the general population’s interest with relatable visuals.
You have an incredible breadth of experience when it comes to working in the arts, from curating, sales, to editorial, you seem to have touched nearly every aspect of the art world. Since you began your career what’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Not applying for another job. I was fired from my gallery job in 2009 (as were most of the staff). I worked for a few years making very little money with the belief that one day, all of my hard work would translate into a career. Not giving up was the biggest risk I’ve taken.
What are some of your favorite websites and resources for finding out information about art happenings around the country?
You just got back from Art Basel: Miami, where you are a battle hardened veteran. How many years have you attended?
I’ve been going since 2008. This year was the first that I didn’t have a project, booth or speaking engagement. Wait, that is not entirely the truth, I did editorial PR for a project that had a small reception, but it was minimal during Basel.
For our readers who are unfamiliar with Basel and the art week on a larger scale, I was hoping that you would describe, briefly, its significance to the global art market?
Art Basel Miami is important because it is the convergence of basically the global art world, all jammed into one hot, sticky city at the same time. Sales, presence and splash do make a difference in the careers of many.
What has changed, for better or worse, since your first year?
Personally, I did not enjoy this year. Basel used to be the place where I’d see the most innovative/crazy/risky/glorious art works. Now, because of its popularity, I feel it’s either “Safe” work that I’ve seen a million times, or something stupidly crazy that guarantees an exhibitor to get Instagrammed a million times.
If I gave you an elephant where would you hide it?
I’d paint it gold and call it an oversized Morrocan pouf ottoman.
What condiment best describes you?