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Lansing gallery gives area residents opportunity to lease artwork

February 29, 2012

With the opening of their latest exhibit, employees of the Lansing Art Gallery, 119 N. Washington Square, in Lansing, hope to make Michigan art more accessible to the community.

The Lease/Purchase Exhibition, which opens Thursday and will run until March 23, features about 40 pieces of artwork created exclusively by Michigan artists — all of which are available not just for purchase but for lease.

Lansing Art Gallery program manager Barb Whitney said although the gallery sometimes offers customers the option to lease certain pieces as a part of its lease/purchase program, it never has held an exhibit of this nature.

“(Leasing is) an excellent option to take (the art) home to try in the space for a month to see if you love it as much as you think you do in the gallery,” Whitney said. “For patrons, it is a way to take it home and sort of test-drive the artwork prior to making that commitment.”

The showcased works consist of a variety of 2D pieces, including paintings, photographs and photo montages.

Leasees can make monthly payments for up to six months that each typically amount to about 10 percent of the piece’s total price. At the conclusion of the six months, the customer can pay the remainder of the balance and own the piece or return it to the gallery and owe nothing further.

Lansing resident and MSU alumnus Michael Smith, who has two pieces featured in the exhibit, said he has had works leased in the past, and has had a positive experience with the unique system.

“I think that every piece I’ve had that someone leased they ended up buying,” he said. “It’s a great way for someone who doesn’t have the cash at the moment but really wants a piece (to get the work).”

Smith said even if the leasing of his artwork in this exhibit does not result in a final sale, the experience still will be worth it because the work likely will be exposed to more people than it would be otherwise.

“It’s getting seen,” he said. “Even if it goes in as a lease, and they decide they don’t want to buy it, other people have been able to see it, so it’s even more exposure.”

Whitney said consumers sometimes are hesitant to commit to such a costly purchase when there is a chance they might not be satisfied with it afterwards. By allowing these cautious buyers the chance to be sure they are satisfied with an item before fully committing to it, she said she believes the gallery sells more art.

Whitney said although customers have the opportunity to return their items, most of them don’t.

“Surprisingly, few people do bring (their purchase) back,” she said. “Most of the time, if you have an instinct that a piece will work in your home or office, it generally will. But it’s nice that you don’t have to keep the piece if it doesn’t work.”

Okemos resident Karen Miller, who has two pieces featured in the exhibit, said she also is happy to have her work available for lease.

“I’m going to be getting the same amount of money whether its leased or purchased,” she said. “I think it’s a nice feature of the Lansing Art Gallery for people in the community.”

Advertising sophomore Sara Gonzalez, who resides in Landon Hall, said she likes the idea of being able to return a piece of artwork after a given period of time because her current living situation is not permanent, and she might not want to take all her decorations with her once she moves.

“I feel like (leasing) would be cool, especially for the dorms because you’re not there for a permanent time,” she said. “I feel like that would be a really good idea.”

Gonzalez said the option to make small payments on a piece of work would make her more likely go to an art gallery when searching for furnishings for her home.

“That definitely makes it more accessible, especially if it’s a lot of money,” she said. “College students don’t have that all at once, so I feel like it’d be a good opportunity.”

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