100 Creatives

Gabriel and Isaac Fortoul of 40Owls on How They Manifest Beauty Through Art

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 1. The Fortoul Brothers.

Gabriel and Isaac Fortoul resist boundaries. 

Whether you deem it commitment-averse or limitless is no matter. The Colombian-born brothers have made a name for themselves through their art, recognizable by its heavy black outlines, strong yet simple color palettes, and figures with bending limbs and almond-shaped eyes.

They were raised on the East Coast — or as they more eloquently describe it, "in the vision and manifestation of ethereal beings." It was after moving to Phoenix from New Jersey in the wake of 9/11 that the duo delved into the arts. Later, they founded their nomadic gallery project, 40Owls. 

Theirs is a unique approach, they concede. "All beings on this earth are gifted with creativity, yet choose different paths of expression," the Fortouls say.

Since then, they've moved around and across the country, showing art in Los Angeles, New York, and here in the Valley, where two exhibitions have been must-attend events for the arts community.  

"We are merely a vessel for its creation," they say of their work. "The images reveal themselves differently depending on the viewer."

And the pair continues finding new ways of connecting with viewers. The Fortouls have shown work at FORM Arcosanti, painted a mini-mural in Central Phoenix alley, and hosted a pop-up gallery show that saw 30 paper teardrops installed alongside paintings and drawings inside an industrial space. They've released snapback hats adorned with their strong geometric imagery, T-shirts teeming with their illustrations.

As they continue to experiment with how and where they present their work, the Fortouls think beyond the concrete creations when considering what might be their greatest accomplishment thus far. 

They resist a definitive answer and bypass their work altogether. They agree: "Our greatest accomplishment is being born and gifted the keys to the universe together with all."

We came to Phoenix with a pocket full of kindling and became one with the desert flame.

We make art because we breathe and manifest beauty from the fire within.

We are productive when our minds are clear, our hearts full, and our voice that of a dragon.

Our inspiration wall is fluid and breaks down barriers. It is a gateway revealing all the gifts and wonders of life and a place where time does not exist.

We've learned most from all lives, past and present, while laying the seeds for the future.

Great art creates synergy and balance between all beings while simultaneously searching for universal answers.

The Phoenix creative scene is thriving as we collectively raise our consciousness and fully connect with the land.

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
51. ColorOrgy
50. Liz Magura
49. Anita and Sam Means
48. Liz Ann Hewett
47. Tiffany Fairall
46. Vanessa Davidson
45. Michelle Dock
44. Nia Witherspoon
43. Monique Sandoval
42. Nayon Iovino
41. Daniel Davisson
40. Andrew King
39. Michelle Moyer
38. Jimmy Nguyen
37. Tiffany Lopez
36. Kristin Bauer
35. Donna Isaac
34. Douglas Miles
33. Sierra Joy
32. Francisco Flores
31. Amy Robinson
30. Julio Cesar Morales
29. Duane Daniels
28. Kelsey Pinckney
27. Ben Smith
26. Rembrandt Quiballo
25. Corinne Geertsen
24. Tess Mosko Scherer
23. Slawomir Wozniak
22. Elly Finzer
21. Josh Brizuela
20. Amy K. Nichols
19. Angela Johnson
18. Grant Vetter
17. Michelle and Melanie Craven
16. Erick Biez
15. Leah Marche
14. Lisa Von Hoffner
13. Amada Cruz
12. Amber Robins
11. Xandriss
10. Steven Tepper
9. Bentley Calverley
8. Lisa Olson
7. Eric Torres
6. Genevieve Rice 
5. Kathleen Trott
4. Alberto Álvaro Ríos
3. Louis Farber
2. Lisa Sette
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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski