Natalie Montagne, the owner of the Lost Unicorn Gallery, shares what it is like to own and curate an art gallery in Second Life, what made her become a sponsor of Fantasy Faire and what she loves most about fantasy.
This is your first year sponsoring Fantasy Faire. What made you decide to become a sponsor?
I’ve always loved everything about Fantasy Faire, from its amazing support of Relay For Life to all the original creations designers make just for the Faire; from the unbelievable builds of the sims created especially for the event to the overall spirit and lively atmosphere Fantasy Faire creates in all of us that love it. What’s not to like?
I’ve been in SL for almost ten years now. After owning several homes and then a lovely fantasy forest sim for several years, I started The Lost Unicorn Gallery just last July. I love it and finally feel I have a way of contributing to the Faire. Relay For Life is also very near and dear to my heart as I’ve known several who have fought or passed on from cancer. I am also a breast cancer survivor myself of three years, so anything I can do to help stop this tragic disease, even in some small way, is a good thing.
What made you decide to start a fantasy art gallery in Second Life? How is it like running one?
I’ve always had a love for artwork picturing faeries, elves, unicorns, dragons and many other fantasy characters…I’m drawn to them. I’m also a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings series and anything in that realm. I enjoy the beauty of all kinds of fantasy art and have also always enjoyed taking pictures in Second Life.
I heard there was a large Second Life community within Flickr so I joined back in 2009. After that, the rest was history as they say! I was amazed to find all the gorgeous and exceptional talent on the site, especially seeing Second Life pictures edited and brought to life like they were. Of course when mesh came along, it all got even better. I began getting more involved in taking pictures myself. I also opened a fantasy sim called Elven Realm in 2010 and housed a small gallery above the sim. After all the time I’d been in SL, I had finally found my niche. I just love discovering new artists and beautiful artwork to share with others. I display the work of artists who are not well known, up and coming artists and tenured to give them all the exposure they deserve. The added benefit is I get to enjoy walking the gallery every day if I wish to view all the talent that makes the gallery gorgeous!
Curating the gallery is something I truly love to do. Yes, it can be hard work, especially with artist exhibits held once a month along with monthly events and gallery rotations. However, it’s work I love to do! I have really enjoyed working with the group of 39 artists who show in the gallery (I rotate their work every 2 months), they are all wonderful and very supportive. Many have become great friends. I’m very passionate, particular and detail-oriented about what I do, but love every minute of it.
What are you bringing to the Faire this year?
We normally don’t sell pictures at the main gallery, they are on display only for the enjoyment of guests. The artists had the option to sell, but decided not to at this time. Selling their work at Fantasy Faire is a first, but they were so excited and happy to do it for Relay For Life. Either the artist or I chose one picture for each to sell in the store we have at Faire. 100% of all sales from all of the pictures will go directly to Relay For Life.
The gallery is also sponsoring the May Day Masked Ball on May 1.
What calls you to fantasy? When was the first time you encountered the genre and realized you enjoyed it?
I’ve loved fantasy since I was very young. I grew up loving faerie tales, unicorns and anything magical. I’ve also had a great love for writing stories and drawing since I was little. I love creating things and using my imagination. As they say, every picture tells a story and I believe this is true. I have incorporated this theme in the gallery with books and reading nooks throughout. I am drawn to the beauty of fantasy art and all it entails. My goal is to share this beauty with others and at the same time show off the talents of so many deserving artists.
Do you have a favourite Faire memory? What are you looking forward to most this year?
I think my favorite memory or what I always think of when Faire comes around another year is the upbeat and lively mood of all those involved and who attend. Its almost the feeling of Christmas with all the shops, events, music on the sims, what everyone is wearing, crowds and overall spirit. This year I’m more excited than I’ve ever been since I’m a part of it all!
Thank you, Natalie, for taking the time to talk with us. Thank you for bringing more magic into the Fairelands!