Fulmer Sill’s FG Gallery in Automobile Alley displays local art with a conscience

FG Gallery’s open floor plan offers an ideal setting for visual art exhibits. (Garett Fisbeck)

FG Gallery’s open floor plan offers an ideal setting for visual art exhibits. (Garett Fisbeck)

Law firms often conjure images of stuffy offices, pretentiously suited employees and a generally elitist atmosphere. If that’s your idea of law offices, you’ve certainly never been to FG Gallery.

Located on the first floor of the Fulmer Sill law firm, 1101 N. Broadway Ave., Suite 102, FG Gallery’s two-year residence inside Midtown’s historic Buick Building is making artistic and charitable waves in the community.

Entering the space, visitors are greeted with meticulously placed art amid contemporary offices and meeting rooms. Law firms can seem intimidating, but Oliver, the affable office poodle, remedies those feelings at the door.

It also doesn’t hurt that the gallery rests in the middle of Oklahoma City’s Automobile Alley.

“We’re next to two major restaurants and have constant foot traffic outside, but people still see law firms as intimidating places,” FG Gallery facilities manager and marketing coordinator Blake Hight told Oklahoma Gazette. “We didn’t want to be like that — our culture is different from the typical law firm. What better way to break the status quo than with a public art gallery?”

Part of the expansive growth of the area  in recent years, Fulmer Sill sits next to Broadway 10 Bar & Chophouse and Hatch, two de rigueur eateries in the area. Beyond its prime location, the gallery itself continuously breaks from the art world status quo with its philanthropic pursuits.

“Our founder Simone Fulmer wants to highlight the fact that artists have a prominent place in all facets of communities,” Hight said. “We currently put all our efforts in connecting emerging local artists with charitable organizations in the city.”

Community charity

When patrons purchase artwork from FG Gallery, they’re not only supporting local artists. In each rotating exhibition, an artist-approved percentage of proceeds go to a community charity of their choosing.

Hight said Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is the most popular charitable choice for exhibiting artists.

“We always ask artists what charities or causes speak to them the most,” he said. “So far, artists have overwhelmingly responded with their desire to contribute to the food bank.”

Working with charitable organizations in OKC, FG Gallery prioritizes high-quality artworks to support its nonprofit goals.

Curator Steve Boyd of Horny Toad Fine Arts Services finds local artists to feature in FG Gallery. From the beginning two years ago, Boyd said the focus has always been on Oklahoma artists.

“At first, I wasn’t sure if Simone wanted art for the offices or to create an actual gallery,” he said. “It was a really unique idea, and I’m pleased with the local artists we’ve been able to feature since it started.”

Rotating every three months, FG features a variety of mediums and styles. Past featured works include sculptures and prints from Ellen Moershel, large-scale mixed media by thedirtyfabulous, abstract paintings by Erin Cooper and film/digital photography by Joseph Mills. In mid-August, FG Gallery featured new works by Dustin Oswald (creator of the Bombs Away line of T-shirts).

FG’s most recent exhibition, Cloudscapes, features David Holland’s engrossing, nearly operatic paintings of the sky. At once meditative and chaotic, no obvious focal point centers Holland’s works — instead, lively but tumultuous clouds dictate the entire frame, affording the ground below little space.

“This show’s opening in April perfectly coincided with Oklahoma’s tornado season,” Boyd said. “People are used to seeing landscape paintings all the time, but I think David’s work stands out from the rest in its ability to show the sky as a captivating subject.”

Following FG artists’ previous patterns, Holland’s chosen charitable organization is Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

“Our relationship with the food bank has been incredibly positive,” Hight said. “They wanted to be a part of our concept from the start, so they’ve kind of become our sponsor in many ways. When we first approached them, they were immediately onboard with the idea of uplifting local artists and charitable causes.”

Although FG is young in the art world and as a nonprofit, the sky’s the limit in terms of its charitable giving. Boyd said the gallery is open to any charity an artist chooses.

“If an artist were to suggest an organization we’d never heard of to donate proceeds to, we’d certainly be open to including them in our network,” he said. “As long as it aligns with Fulmer Sills’ values, we don’t want to limit where artists choose to donate.”

Works from David Holland’s Cloudscapes hang in FG Gallery, part of the Fulmer Sill law firm. (Garett Fisbeck)

Works from David Holland’s Cloudscapes hang in FG Gallery, part of the Fulmer Sill law firm. (Garett Fisbeck)

Public space

Besides the law firm itself, the public remains the primary connection between artists and local charities. FG Gallery emphasizes this with free open house events coinciding with each exhibition opening and closing. Individuals can also schedule private tours of each show during or after office hours.

“Accessibility and community are our two main goals,” Hight said. “We want people to feel welcome to enter our space, so our open house events really try to emphasize a community presence.”

Open houses feature live music by local bands, food from Midtown restaurants and plenty of festive libations. An open floor plan, quality acoustics and space above the first floor for musicians to play make for lively gatherings.

“Every open house, we always open our doors so people know that they are welcome to participate,” Hight said. “When they hear the live music coming from the gallery, it usually sparks an interest.”

In establishing a relationship with the public, FG hopes to expand its educational programming in the future.

“We’d like to eventually invite nearby schools to participate in guided tours of our exhibitions,” Hight said. “Since art programs in schools are shrinking, we want to function as an alternative source of education, especially for low-income schools in OKC.”

FG Gallery’s vision speaks to a larger need for social change through art in communities, and a progressive approach to practicing law furthers this mission.

“There’s always an opportunity in OKC to involve people in the arts,” Hight said. “We’re looking forward to connecting with more local organizations to improve our community.”

Visit fulmersill.com.

Print headline: Legal art, Fulmer Sill’s FG Gallery in Automobile Alley displays local art with a conscience.

Jessica Williams

This article was written by an Oklahoma Gazette contributor. To reach an editor, please email jchancellor@okgazette.com with this story's headline in your subject line.

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