My name is Forge. I am an artist and an activist (artivist). I am skilled in printmaking, serigraphs primarily. I have been a professional fine art print maker since 1989. I appreciate the level of thought, planning, technical expertise and execution in creating prints. Even with all the planning, printmaking has always been like throwing a surprise party for myself. I love the unexpected nuances of all of the printing processes I have worked with in the past 30 years.
In the early 2000's, I worked in the early rise of digital printmaking and worked making fine art reproductions for some of the worlds finest museum collections. After a few years, I realized the negative aspect that digital printing created for traditional printmakers, and decided to go analog and dedicate myself to preserving and teaching traditional methods to younger artists while working with established artists who already felt that their print work needed to be created with more time-honored techniques.
“Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”
― Bertolt Brecht
During the Dakota Access Pipeline conflict at Standing Rock, I was compelled to create a work of art depicting Sitting Bull in the style of Shepard Fairey’s “Andre the Giant Has a Posse”. I created this in support of the movement to stop the pipeline and made the image freely available to anyone who wanted to use it. I was living in Taos, New Mexico at the time and enlisted the help of the Taos Integrated School for the arts students to print banners of the iconic image to send to students living and going to school in Standing Rock during the conflict. The result was a cultural exchange that I hope brought unity through art. The image was also adopted buy the Indigenous Youth Council and used in many of their communications. Even though the conflict didn’t end the way we wanted it to, the ability to inspire and unify people through a simple artistic image showed me the true power art can wield.
This is what drives and inspires me.
I truly wanted to go to Standing Rock, but I had two daughters in my care, and it was a dangerous place to be at the time. My artwork reached the people who were there and inspired them though.
An artivist was born in me then.
I will always look at social issues and try to express my views with art.
My goal as an artist is to be able to create a sustainable model where I can be free to create the artwork I want AND have the ability to SHOW and (possibly), SELL my artwork to the public. I do not subscribe to the gallery model. I believe I have the skill, ability and drive to sell my own artwork.
This is why I created the “Mobile Art Gallery” (MAG) concept. I have a 1979 Grumman Truck (same concept as a food truck). The outside looks unassuming, but inside, art abounds!
Since 2016, under the name ARTAOS, I have been hosting art exhibits in the MAG. Sometimes, “art for art’s sake” (a NFS portfolio of Egon Schile lithographs). Sometimes for a cause (promoting the Taos Artist Organization 2017 studio tour). Sometimes, for profit (2016 Indian Market) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And sometimes, we just “pop-up”, roll out the art materials and say “hey everybody, LET’s MAKE SOME ART!”
From 2015-2017 I owned a “brick and mortar” studio/gallery in Taos, NM ARTAOS and 555 Editions (my print shop name). Our first Taos show was featured on the cover of the Taos Tempo and showed the work of over 28 fine art printmakers from all over the southwest.
We had about 8 shows in that space (all local, unrepresented artists) in 2 years and I worked with numerous artists wanting traditional print work for shows in other spaces.
I also noticed while living/working in Taos that there were hundreds of unrepresented artists, struggling to make ends meet as artists in a town that markets itself as “North America’s Oldest Artist’s Colony”. I started asking questions like “why isn’t there a weekly artist’s market in Taos?”
I’m going to make a long story short. After strong opposition from the Town of Taos’s government and gallery owners. AND after ARTAOS petitions, newspaper articles and town council meetings, the Town of Taos passed a resolution in support of the arts, enabling local artists to sell their artwork to the public WITHOUT a gallery or museum!
As an artist, I truly want to see “all boats rise” or at least, be able to do my part.
Being able to have a Mobile Art Gallery, and being who I am as a human being, I want to be able to help struggling artists to help themselves.
Having moved from Taos to Denver recently has hit the “reset” button. ARTAOS and the MAG are relatively unknown in Denver. Denver is very progressive when it comes to public art. We have very little restrictions with an art truck and wish to open doors to artists who love what they do and simply need a place to show their creative gifts.