Renée Riccardo began her career as an independent curator, organizing shows of contemporary art in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles from 1985 to 1990. During that time she was an Adjunct Curator for Photography at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1) in Long Island City, NY. In 1991 Riccardo founded ARENA, a contemporary gallery for emerging artists, at 128 Wooster Street in Soho. Two years later ARENA moved to a brownstone apartment on Clinton Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, where it functioned as a salon-style gallery space for six years. There, ARENA presented the first solo shows of Ann Agee, Joanne Greenbaum, Rachel Harrison and Jason Middlebrook among many others.
While exhibiting art in Brooklyn, she co-organized (with John Good) The Art Exchange Show, a contemporary art fair utilizing nine floors of abandoned office space in Lower Manhattan that combined art galleries with live performances in 1996 and 1997. After being featured on the cover of The New York Times Magazine for the article Neo-Dealers and on City Arts, a PBS cultural magazine on television, ARENA moved to Williamsburg to join forces with Feed Gallery and became ARENA@Feed.
In 2002 ARENA relocated to Manhattan to the renowned Chelsea Arts Building at 526 West 26 Street where she presented the work of now renowned artists Marilyn Minter and Wangechi Mutu among many others. In late 2004 Riccardo established ARENA Projects as a nomadic gallery, continuing to promote the work of emerging artists by organizing independent exhibitions for galleries and institutions nationally. Currently Riccardo curates exhibitions entitled, Wrap Around at ARENA@Suite 806, the current incarnation of ARENA in her therapists office on Fifth Ave., NYC.