Featured Question with Forrest: How Did You Get Started in the Art Business?

Fenn Gallery

I would like to know how Forrest chose to open an art gallery. Did Forrest or Peggy have an interest or background in art before they moved to Santa Fe? I love the way Forrest told children to touch, and how to touch, and why to touch. I was a potter and loved to have kids come into my studio. I also loved it when they went home. ~ Jodykay

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Thanks for the question JodyKay. It brings back memories.

I had a hard year in Vietnam. All alone and hiding in the Laotian jungle after being shot down for the second time gave me time to think. The AF gave me $150 combat pay and the same for flying. That brought my total income to about $1,000 a month. There had to be something better for me, even with no education.

So I taught myself to cast bronze and built my own equipment. During the next two years I made $180,000 in my garage after working 50 hours a week for the Air Force. That told me I could do it, so I turned down a promotion and retired from the military. Two years later my family moved to Santa Fe and slept on the floor while we plastered the walls of our gallery.

Luck brought me to the right place at the right time with the right product. I kept reminding me that art was a commodity and artists were manufacturers. That’s what kept my feet on the ground and gave me an edge over my competitors who “absolutely loved art.” New Mexico Business Journal wrote a cover story on that subject.

My lack of experience and art smarts were more than offset by my imagination, guts, logical mind, and willingness to work. That’s an awesome recipe.

And, while I have you here I’ll give you some advice, which won’t work for everyone. If you don’t like your job, get out fast and work for yourself. Think! There are things waiting for you. Don’t do anything where your best customer gives you $100. And most important, don’t tell yourself no, just go do it.f

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8 Responses

  1. Jenny Kile says:

    Thanks for sharing, Forrest. Successful stories are always such great encouragement. Whether in the process of starting a new business, or thinking about one, the words ‘Just do it’ never get old to hear. And I love that recipe……..

  2. Woody Bogg says:

    Thanks Forrest . Interesting story…… My brother and I would tell stories of our adventures and you could see the expression on some peoples faces like they didn’t believe us. I could tell they couldn’t fathom doing those things or that kind of life. I was even called a liar once and that I didn’t have the money or the resources to do those things. We used to say Just do it long before nike ever came up with that saying. My brother later had that put on his boat in Alaska. We would go king crabbing and halibut fishing every year. He passed on in 2003 and I still miss him. But the motto was Just do it.

  3. Sissel says:

    “Just do it.” With your encouragement Forrest, and without anyone else’s.. tomorrow I will do it. If the bananas aren’t on the tree, I will bow anyway and worship His Majesty bathing in the beatuty of creation. With certainty I’ll know it was a splendid moment.

  4. BW says:

    I have great admiration for people that have the courage to give up a successful career and dive into the unknown.

  5. JC1117 says:

    That was a very bold move, Forrest. I admire your courage and leaps of Faith. I need to strive with more diligence to walk in your footsteps. Now, where…EXACTLY…did you say were footsteps were, again?!!!! LOL! 🙂

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdjL8WXjlGI

  6. Jody Kay says:

    Thank you for answering. Funny how sometimes luck and industry get you ahead and other times just help you get current. My uncle Ed came back from Korea to home-town parade in Lincoln IL. He got his back-pay for his 30some months as a POW and replacd the yard pump and outhouse with indoor convenience. There was great celebration, but also a lot of “staring-off.” He once told me only the country-boys and the Turks had suvived.

  7. Danny-boy says:

    Forrest your are a real inspiration to many, I love reading your stories.
    You have lived the life that sadly many of todays generations are actively encouraged only to dream of.

    I would love to see some pictures of your bronzes you made.

  8. Carolyn says:

    I keep thinking of starting a business, I guess I need to just do it. I feel like I lack the imagination part. I feel like I lost it after childhood. I need to figure out how to get it back and I want to learn to make bronzes too.

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