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The Entrepreneurs:

Art Broker Decks Clients' Halls with Local Artists' Masterpieces

By Heather Skale

The Washington Times

April 5, 1999

June Linowitz began her art leasing and sales business in 1996 with the idea of bringing art galleries to people. “Not very many people walk into art galleries” Linowitz said. “Most people think they will feel uncomfortable there.”

To make it easy for people to talk about art, the artist and former art gallery director has clients of her business, ArtSeen Inc., organize postcards with pictures of art into piles of what they like, dislike, and can live with. She then brings clients, which are mostly businesses, slides of art she thinks they might like. After that, she brings in pieces of art they may want to buy or lease. Most businesses have a committee choose the art they plan to buy or lease, Linowitz said.

ArtSeen sells or leases art from more than 200 local artists and has an inventory of more than 6,000 pieces of art on slides. The paintings, sculptures and other objects range in price from $100 to $50,000.

Joe Fitzgerald, a fifth-generation Washingtonian and artist, sells his landscape pastels through ArtSeen. Linowitz makes people comfortable with art, he says. “June has the amazing ability to help people see what it is that they like and to have the courage to put that up on the walls”, Fitzgerald said.

Linowitz began her business by leasing and selling art to D.C. are law firms and later, to technology companies. The latter tend to bypass high-tech in favor of art that is more organic with earthy colors and living forms.

Most often businesses buy the art they choose, but some decide to lease pieces, she said.

Chesapeake Resources Inc, a Rockville self-storage management company, used ArtSeen to fill the walls of its new offices recently. Linowitz found art made of corrugated boxes and a photograph of a storage space for this company. “We were thrilled she took the time to find out our business,” said Nancy Gunning, senior vice president of Chesapeake Resources. “Our walls look beautiful”. The company first leased the art, but liked it so well, it soon bought the pieces.

Linowitz has access to many artists from her former job of director of Studio Gallery in Dupont Circle, her membership in the Washington Arts Community and on the board of directors of the Montgomery County Arts Council. She spends her days juggling visits to artists’ studios to view new work, visiting businesses to place art, attending meeting for local art groups and working on her own art.

Linowitz, who has been a painter and sculptor since growing up with an artist mother, considers herself a good judge of art and has no problem dealing with artists. However, she had to learn how to talk to businesses to lease and sell art through ArtSeen.

Washington is a hard city to be an artist in, but there are many good artists, she said. Many local artists now call her to be part of ArtSeen, for which, she chooses artists very carefully. “I think artists who deal with me are pleased. I do to them what I wanted done to me when I was a full-time artist”, she said. Unlike other art dealers, Linowitz pays her artists quickly after a piece is sold and tells them to whom it was sold, Fitzgerald said. Other dealers do not tell artists to whom their art was sold for fear the artist will sell additional art to the client without the dealer gathering a commission, he said. “It is very gratifying to be dealt with in a trustworthy manner.” Fitzgerald said.

Reprinted with permission of Washington Times. © 1999 News World Communications, Inc. Visit our web site at http://www.washtimes.com

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