Conversation … Leigh Fogle  

Art Consultant, Entrepreneur, Innovator

Congratulations on your 30th year anniversary—Fogle Fine Art and Arbus Magazine are celebrating the same milestone year! We’ve worked together since you opened your art gallery on Beach Boulevard back when your initial focus was on the development of corporate and interior design accounts. You’ve now grown into one of the largest galleries and art consulting firms in the Southeast. Can you tell us about your strategy for how you accomplished that?

I actually started the company in a guest room of our two-bedroom townhouse back in 1994! I had a few false starts (the Tupperware party idea did not pan out) but quickly figured out that I needed some economy of scale. I started calling on the office furniture dealerships in the area. Within the first six months, we had contracts for three national accounts. It wasn’t glamorous; lots of poster art and metal frames, but there was volume and it allowed us to work full-time in the business. Us being my husband, Bryan, and I. I think the secret to our success is that we highly value our relationships with our clients as well as our vendors. We have been blessed with long-term relationships and repeat customers over the years. My cardinal rule is to keep your word and keep your credit. I think people know that when we say we’re going to do something we do it, and if there’s a problem, we’ll find a solution.

    Fogle Fine Art has worked with healthcare clients since the mid-90s thanks in part to Jacksonville’s position as a healthcare hub. How did that all start, and can you share the names of some of your clients and the healthcare projects you are most proud of?      

     Within a few years of starting the company, we were working with various healthcare facilities in the Northeast Florida area, including Baptist, Flagler Health, and Mayo Clinic. Healthcare projects are especially gratifying to me because I was a psychology minor in college and thought about going into a career in art therapy. Placing art in these medical facilities is a bit of art therapy for patients and families (and proven to have positive effects on staff as well). I attend conferences to learn about the research and best practices for types of imagery and programs for art in healthcare and am thrilled to be one of a handful of firms in the nation with this expertise. Local imagery (especially nature scenes) has a positive effect on patient satisfaction, can lead to quicker recovery times, and can even help reduce pain. Alternatively, abstract subjects can be used in appropriate departments to help reinforce the idea that the facility is on the leading edge of the latest and greatest strategies for treatment. 

     There have been many projects over the years I am proud of, but I have to say that Baptist South is one of my favorite facilities.  We did all the art for the first tower and several floors of the additions over the years. I’m also really proud of the work we did throughout the COVID era with Lee Health at their Coconut Point facility in Estero, Florida and Gulf Coast Medical in Fort Myers. 

    How has your strategy shifted since you first started, and what is your focus now? 

    When we first opened, I would take any project I could get! We survived cancellations of some large accounts due to 9/11 and were blessed to have large projects in the pipeline during the Great Recession. I learned first-hand about the 80/20 rule (80 percent of your income is from 20 percent of your clients). We are focused back again on corporate and healthcare projects. We had a large gallery in St. Nicholas from 2005-2010 and did a lot of residential projects at that time but now we are more on the contract side and focused again on our relationships with office furniture dealers, developers, architects, and designers. These symbiotic relationships have sustained us over the years, and I believe by working together we have created an ecosystem that is a multi-prong support system for artists and businesses in our community.

   You recently opened gallery space at the new Dennis + Ives building located in the Rail Yard District. What are your plans for that space? 

    The Dennis + Ives space is a perfect example of how by working together great things will come. When we first started talking with the developers about how we could curate art and use the facility, I don’t think either of us realized how much of a positive impact the art would make on that space, and as is happening now, on the surrounding neighborhood. Our plan is to have exhibits/openings a couple of times a year with exhibited work on display daily. 

    Your services expanded to include Environmental Graphic Design (EGD). Can you explain what EGD is? 

    I sometimes refer to EGD as brands in environments. Think about it like graphic design for the built environment. Not unlike how you lay out the pages of Arbus Magazine, our team helps design the walls/environments for our clients. How can we take your brand standards and tie them into your facility?  This reinforces the organization’s brand (color/font/etc.) but also their mission/vision/values. For instance, one of our projects in Middle Tennessee was with a faith-based healthcare system. For their lobby they wanted something with a cross—but not too literal so that all people regardless of religious orientation would feel welcome. We designed a collage and commissioned an artist to paint a series so that some viewers saw the cross immediately in the design, but others never noticed it was there. 

   What are your professional passions?     

   I love talking with people from all walks of life about the art world in real everyday terms. It is not an ivory tower just for the collectors—art is all around us and a part of the fabric of our society. Without it we are a homogenous, passionless living blob! History is often told through the art, architecture, and culture of the time, as it is a reflection on the technology, politics, and values of that society. But the arts can also be a thoroughly personal experience which generates profound joy and sometimes sorrow. It is what makes us human.

   What do you love about Jacksonville?    

   We were in Nashville for 10 years, and although I still had many projects in Northeast Florida, I missed the sense of community here. This creative community is incredibly supportive and collaborative, something I think many who have not been out of the area may take for granted. Lots of people I know have moved away but come back because there is a special sense of place and authenticity. We as a community need to work hard to maintain that authenticity and our identity while also being welcoming to all.  Which is the other part I love: As a community we are willing to do the work and     actively participate—maybe that is our secret sauce.

Author: Arbus

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