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Artistic power couple takes over LibertyTown in featured exhibit
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Artistic power couple takes over LibertyTown in featured exhibit

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Bill “Vontex” Forrest said the first time he knew he was going to be an artist was when he was in second grade.

The children in class were all drawing. The teacher was looking on and saw the young Forrest’s work and decided he needed a bigger piece of paper to draw on.

“She encouraged me to fill it up and I drew this big epic underwater scene with whales and squids and mermaids, and she put it up on the wall. I remember all the kids standing around looking at my art,” Forrest said. “That was the first time I recognized that I could draw.”

Sandi Martina was also in grade school when she realized she had a knack for communicating with art.

“I think I was fifth or sixth grade and we were working on a conservation project, where we had to do posters, so I designed a poster. It’s imprinted in my mind. The title of it was ‘Make a Clean Sweep for Conservation,’ and I just had this big broom kind of gliding in the sky over the countryside,” Martina, 62, said. “That’s where I started my graphic background. I really, really enjoyed trying to figure out the illustration and drawing with the type and the layout on the page.”

Martina and Forrest, who both wound up working in graphic arts, now have a show at LibertyTown Arts Workshop called “Power Couples: Volume II,” on display through Aug. 30.

The pair met in 2003 when Forrest was a hang-gliding instructor. A year after they met, Martina said, Forrest took her on her first tandem flight. In 2007, she moved to Woodbridge from Richmond to be with Forrest and that’s how they became a “power couple.”

Each artist’s work stands alone, but each helps the other in creating. Martina works in glass and Forrest in metal. They share in the creative process, said Forrest.

“We work very independently for the most part, but occasionally, I’ll need a piece of glass and I’ll go to her, or she’ll need some metal for her projects, and she’ll come to me, and then we’ll collaborate,” said Forrest, whose friends call him “Tex.”

“There are some pieces where I will actually hire Tex. I’ll design a stand or armature and then have Tex fabricate it for me. A lot of times I like to help with the fabrication,” Martina said.

Some of Martina’s works in glass would fit in a place of worship. Some bring forth images of the sky while her panes with translucent flowers invoke a Japanese tearoom.

Forrest’s art is an amalgamation of nuts and bolts, sheet metal, a few flying eyeballs and found household items all put together to form rock musicians, women’s shoes and a frog. A social commentary in smiley faces shows Forrest’s thoughts about ideologues and face masks.

Forrest said he hopes people enjoy their art and take something away from the show that he calls “an eclectic mix of three-dimensional goodness.”

“You always want to entertain and inform. You hope that your audience gets something out of it,” the 60-year-old artist said.

Martina, who has worked as a freelance graphic artist and photographer since 1990, said she loves being an artist and has a motto that defines her.

“I have a quote that I live by. It’s by Elbert Hubbard and he says, ‘Art is not a thing. It is a way.’ That is so core to who I am. It’s inside me. We do what we do. We love what we do.”

Forrest said his art unfetters him.

“It’s one of the truest forms of freedom to me. I think even when I was little, I always appreciated the feeling of being free. I knew intuitively that in my world there are no rules and that’s a very liberating kind of thing.”

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