Getting Iranian-Americans to Collect Art: A Talk With AdvocArtsy’s Roshi Rahnama

By Fred Parvaneh

Roshi Rahnama is a California-based ex-attorney and art collector. She is also the founder of a key series of events: the AdvocArtsy exhibitions, which have been instrumental in showcasing the work of artists of Iranian descent. The latest in the series – “Art Brief III: The (Un)Draped Woman” – ends this weekend in Santa Monica.

Roshi Rohnama

Since the series was launched in 2015, it has had a measurable impact not only on the Iranian-American community but on the L.A. museum world. Two works showcased in the last exhibition, “Art Brief II: Iranian Contemporary North America,” were acquired by LACMA and are now part of its permanent collection. They were by L.A.-based artist Farzad Kohan and San-Francisco based artist Dariush Nehdaran. Curators from L.A. museums regularly visit the shows, and openings are attended by as many as 1,000 people.

“Art Brief III” addresses the representation of women featuring the following artists: Afsoon, Gohar Dashti, Amir H. Fallah, Firouz Farman-Farmaian, Shadi Ghadirian, Simin Keramati, Farzad Kohan, Tahmineh Monzavi, Dana Nehdaran, Hadi Salehi, Sepideh Salehi, Shilla Shakoori, Kamran Taherimoghaddam, and Shadi Yousefian. Each has an image displayed in the slideshow above.

Kayhan London caught up with Roshi for a conversation about her exhibition series. We asked her why she started it in the first place.

“I founded AdvocArtsy with the mission to elevate awareness of and engagement with Iranian contemporary art,” she replied. “I became aware of a disparity between the sheer size of L.A,’s Iranian community – the largest outside of Iran – and the scope of its engagement with fine arts. While there was no dearth of interesting, provocative art being produced by Iranian artists here, there appeared to be a shortage of proper venues for those artists to showcase their work and connect with their most natural base of collectors, enthusiasts, and supporters.”

Roshi Rohnama

With the latest exhibition, “Art Brief III,” Roshi said she hoped to “encourage viewers to go beyond pre-conceived perceptions and help engender a new dialogue regarding the image of women in Iran and beyond. We believe that a fresh conversation on the topic is long overdue, and perhaps best approached through the universal language of art.”

“Art Brief III” is on at the Arena 1 Gallery in Santa Monica. For more information: