‘Forge’ satisfies the curious and the creative

Art exhibit celebrates the rich industrial history of east side

Forge, an art event at the Madison Brass Works, opened June 10 to a crowd curious and excited to explore 18 artists’ installations nestled into the historic, industrial building that inspired the art. Forge, which was an enormous gift to our community, was curated and organized by Ellen Carlson and Erika Monroe-Kane.

 Entrance to Forge Exhibit at Brass Works building.

Entrance to Forge Exhibit at Brass Works building.

They did an incredible job with every detail, and the 1,500 or more visitors who got to see it appreciated every part of it.The new art and the old building evoked memories, aroused senses and expanded their regard for the dignity of the work that happened there. Using a stack of old-fashioned time cards to record their comments, visitors said: “Damp and Dangerous. Loved it.” “This space and this show is amazing. Love, Love, Love all this rusty stuff!” “Thank you for giving this history LIFE again.” “An unexpected beauty.”


 Artists Angela Richardson and Paul Andrews' "Totems" used objects inside the building to pay tribute to the role workers' physical labor and industrial creativity played in forging the history of the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood.

Artists Angela Richardson and Paul Andrews' "Totems" used objects inside the building to pay tribute to the role workers' physical labor and industrial creativity played in forging the history of the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood.

 Neon piece, "Infinitive" by Helen Lee echoed one of many bits of humor and wisdom workers pinned on the wall of the foundry office. Fabrication by Tom Zickuhr and Ben Orozco.

Neon piece, "Infinitive" by Helen Lee echoed one of many bits of humor and wisdom workers pinned on the wall of the foundry office. Fabrication by Tom Zickuhr and Ben Orozco.


Monroe-Kane re­marked, “I loved that we had people particu­larly drawn in by the building, those who came for the art, and people who stopped off the bike path just because they were curi­ous. This mix was re­ally wonderful because it created a situation where everyone could be surprised by some­thing unexpected.”

Carlson agreed and added, “The commu­nity response was even greater than we imagined it would be. Seeing how peo­ple engaged with the art and the build­ing was rewarding for us as organizers and curators, but also for the artists who often were among the crowd visiting the exhibition. It was truly a special op­portunity and we couldn’t have done it without the trust of Goodman Commu­nity Center or the vision and commitment of the artists.”

As a central part of Forge, Carlson and Monroe-Kane invited the Goodman Com­munity Center to ex­hibit our plans for the Madison Brass Works building — construction will begin in August or September. Without excep­tion, people we talked with were pleased to see Goodman expanding to do even greater good in our community. We feel lucky to live in a place where people value such creativity and community.

Article featured in the july/august 2017 issue of the eastside news
By Kristin Groth, GCC director of communications and community giving