Whitney Rosenson Profiled on Artweek.LA

September 30, 2013, Features


Can’t decide what to buy? Do your tastes change so often you find that six months down the road you’ve grown tired of the art on your walls? Leasing art has become an attractive alternative to outright purchasing. We talked to expert Whitney Rosenson about this growing trend.

While the practice of leasing art has been around for some time, its popularity appears to be on the rise, fueled in part by the growing number of online businesses trying to attract those would-be art buyers. Buyers who either may not be sure of what they want and would like to “try before they buy,” or who are not in the position to part with large sums of cash all at once.

To find out more about this growing practice we spoke with Whitney Rosenson, owner of Art Dimensions, a firm that specializes in the leasing of contemporary art of various media including painting, print, sculpture and photography.

Artweek.LA: So Whitney, tell us a little bit about yourself. What did you do before Art Dimensions?
Whitney Rosenson: Sure. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but oddly enough studied Art History at the University of Michigan. I received my Masters in Education and a teaching credential from Pepperdine University. Before running Art Dimensions, I was a teaching assistant for a kindergarten class and I also taught fifth grade for the Beverly Hills Unified School District. After that I was a gallery assistant at the Sylvia White Gallery and also a founding member of GenArt in Los Angeles.

AWLA: How long has Art Dimensions been leasing art? Has this always been the firm’s primary business?
WR: Art Dimensions has been leasing art for about 22 years. The business was owned and run by my mother. She had a gallery space in Santa Monica in what was then the Broadway Gallery Complex near Cloverfield, where Meyers/Bloom Gallery, Robert Berman Gallery and his Santa Monica Auctions, and Ruth Bachofner Gallery were all located. Now Art Dimensions is a web-based business. Leasing fine contemporary art has always been the firm’s primary business.

AWLA: You took over ADI about 15 years ago. Obviously during that time there have been changes in the art market, driven a great deal by the economy. How has this affected leasing fine art? Do you find a greater interest?
WR: In fact, I do find that there has been a greater interest in leasing art over the past 15 years. Many people realize there are great tax advantages to leasing art for their offices. Others have found that leasing is a great way to acquire a collection without plunking down a ton of money at the get go.

AWLA: Who leases art? Is there a typical client? What are the reasons people most often have for leasing art? Are there any “extra” benefits that people find in leasing art?
WR: Honestly so many different people lease art. Homeowners are clients of Art Dimensions, as well as corporate clients such as money management firms, advertising agencies and law firms. People often lease art to create rotating art programs in their offices and homes.

Set decorators lease art for television and film sets. Studios generally don’t have it in their budgets to buy the artwork that you see in a film or TV show, so I work with set decorators to help find appropriate work and furnish the sets. Home stagers are great clients as well. The right artwork can help create an idealized view of “home” that makes someone want to buy it. One “extra” benefit in particular for corporate clients is that in most cases they can write off their lease as a business expense.

What about the art and artists? What types of art can one lease? Do most artists lease their work
WR: I deal with well-known, established and emerging artists whose work includes painting, prints, sculpture and photography. Right now I am now working with about eighty different artists, most of whom are Los Angeles based, such as Lisa Adams, Ned Evans, Rose Masterpol, and Laddie John Dill, to name a few.

This breadth of work enables us to meet each client’s specific needs. And since most are L.A.-based we can often arrange to view the artwork at the artist’s studio.

AWLA: I think we often look at leasing as an alternative to buying. But is that so? Are we talking about an either/or situation? Or do art “buyers” also lease art, perhaps for different reasons?
WR: Oh, it’s definitely not an either/or situation. Art buyers lease art as a way to test drive something in their home or office before committing to a purchase. One benefit to leasing through Art Dimensions is that most of the rental fees applies towards the purchase of the artwork. We think it’s a great way to create an investment for oneself!

AWLA: Finally, in terms of the future of leasing fine art, do you see any trends either in the short- and long-terms?
WR: Obviously, it is a matter of taste and what works best with your space. I think that leasing fine art best suits offices and corporate spaces because of the tax advantages coupled with the ability to rotate your art every 6 months or year. It’s is a great way to keep things fresh while entertaining your associates and clients.