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Lease a Masterpiece

By Kathy Callahan

Washington Flyer

May/June 1999


Panic was setting in. Lois Schoenbrun’s organization was moving to new offices. This was her opportunity to create a fabulous workspace, to make her mark on the American Academy of Optometry. But her initial exhilaration had given way to one terrifying thought: “What in the world am I going to put on the walls?”

Local artist June Linowitz understands. “I saw that the intimidation factor loomed large,” she says. “I knew that people were deciding against original art because they thought it would be too expensive, or that somehow they weren’t qualified to select it”. At the same time, as a curator and art gallery director, she was in constant contact with hundreds of local artists who were struggling just to have the art on view anywhere. The result: ArtSeen Inc.

Through her two-year-old company, Linowitz represents approximately 200 artists with more than 4,000 tremendously diverse pieces of original art. You can lease them, buy them or lease with the option to buy. You can even opt for an exhibition lease, where your collection changes every four to 12 months.

The key to ArtSeen’s success is the non-threatening selection process. Linowitz asks clients to go through stacks of art on postcards, sorting them into love-it, could-live-with-it and hate-it piles. She listens carefully to these discussions, and comes away with a strong idea of what kind of culture the art should reflect. “The whole process was fun and, well, validating,” says Schoenbrun. “And we really love having these wonderful original pieces rather than just prints.”

Ahh, Music to Linowitz’s ears. In a town filled with hidden agendas, Linowitz is no exception. Sure, she wants her business to be a success, but what she’s really after is to turn Washington into a city of art lovers, one office at a time.

Reprinted with permission of Washington Flyer.

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