Joe Forte Artist's StatementRaised as a fundamentalist Christian, I was taught to believe that the core, creative aspects of my being -- impulse, pleasure, curiosity and desire -- were not only shameful, but would lead to damnation.

In 1996, I began to study painting with Los Angeles artist and teacher Joe Blaustein as a way to explore this contradiction.

Like the world I grew up, my early work was rigid and controlled. Joe Blaustein encouraged me to embrace the accidental. This was a liberating feeling and deeply divergent from the perfectionism of my upbringing. My work soon became sloppy, freewheeling, gregarious -- even bawdy -- and I saw that my way out of this fundamentalist maze lay not in rebellion, but through the process of reclaiming what was deemed unfit, and therefore, discarded. This clarity and direction opened up a new dialogue in my work between my ordered and spontaneous selves; the acceptable versus the unacceptable.

Incorporating salvaged objects that risk destruction into my current pieces, I am reminded/taught and re-taught that the greatest freedom in life comes from letting go. Working in a style that seeks to find beauty in chaos, these salvaged objects are merged into paintings that reference maps, poster art, advertising, billboards, baseball cards, and signage of all kinds. In the process, the unfit and rejected are put on display -- exposed and exonerated.