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Oklahoma Volkswagen Dealership Installs Art Collection | DrivingSales News

Oklahoma Volkswagen Dealership Installs Art Collection

January 20, 2016 1 Comment

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Although it may seem like an unlikely pairing, a car dealership in Norman, Oklahoma now doubles as an art gallery. Following an extensive search for more than 30 local artists, the Fowler Volkswagen art collection has now been installed and is open for viewing by the public.

It’s a very interesting concept that is intended to provide support to the arts while creating a unique customer experience. The dealership’s walls now feature two sculptures, four murals, 20 two-dimensional pieces and seven works that utilize Volkswagen parts.

Dealership owner Jonathan Fowler is a Norman Arts Council board member and self-proclaimed art lover, which provides some insight into how this unusual combination came to be.

“I like art; that’s a big part of it,” Fowler said. “But the honest truth is that our involvement with the Norman Arts Council and the Oklahoma Arts Council and organizations like that have taught us so much about the importance of arts in the community, in terms of tying the community together.”

“Beyond that, it’s about customer experience,” he continued. “You’ve seen dealerships go from places much like dentist offices, somewhere you don’t really want to go. Knowing that customers are going to have to wait sometimes, automotive dealerships have become a lot nicer places to wait. So, this is really an extension of that evolution and it’s our take on that. Being that we’ve always been ingrained in arts and culture, it was a natural fit for us.”

The location is one of the largest Volkswagen dealerships in the country, at 48,000 square feet, which provides a great deal of room to showcase a wide range of art. Fowler gives a lot of credit for the accomplishment to Kristen Vails, director of community outreach for Fowler Holding Co., who is an artist as well.

“The vision was to create an art gallery within a car dealership,” said Vails. “We wanted the space to be intriguing for customers and a place our employees are proud to work in.”

Vails is the curator of the collection and says that although it wasn’t pre-approved by corporate Volkswagen representatives, they were very pleased once they saw the art.

“Volkswagen loves it, but we had to hide it from them at first,” Fowler said. “Everything that you’ve seen regarding the artwork here is against their guidelines on what you can and can’t do, with very few exceptions. But they loved it.”

The art is said to be intensely honest, without shying away from the fact that Volkswagen was founded by the Nazis in 1937. After the allies claimed victory in WWII, the United States helped Germany to rebuild, including saving Volkswagen. From the origins of the Beetle in Nazi Germany to the VW bus that is so closely connected to the counter culture of 1960s America, the automaker certainly has a fascinating history, which is told through a centerpiece of the collection by Matt Goad, called “Dream Big, Think Small.”

“They were totally cool with (showing that history),” Goad explained. “I went from the dark history to the peace-and-love era to what it is today. That’s where it came from. It makes it kind of cool in a way, that something with a dark past can turn into something positive.”

About the Author:

The DrivingSales News team is dedicated to breaking the relevant and the tough stories affecting car dealers. Have questions for DrivingSales News? Reach the team at news@drivingsales.com.

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    I’ve always wanted to do this but don’the have the space. Hats off to you Johnathan. This is a fantastic way for Volkswagen to win back America’s heart.

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