Joseph Forbes

Joe grew up in rural Virginia and attended Chowan College where he earned an Associates Degree in Journalism. He then studied scene design at the University of North Carolina Greensboro where he earned a BFA in Scene Design. Upon moving to New York he attended Lester Polakov's Studio and Forum of Stage Design. He became a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829 in 1979.

Joe has had a long career as a professional Scenic Artist working in NY on projects ranging from theatre, ballet, film, and television, to theme parks, restaurant interiors and permanent displays. He started at Nolan's Scenery Studio his first day in the Union and painted on many of the iconic productions of that era including Annie, Cats, A Chorus Line, Evita, and 42nd Street. His credits in film include Ghost Busters, Crocodile Dundee, The Money Pit, and The Old Gringo (a little known film starring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda). In 1994, Joe founded Scenic Art Studios, which has become the premier scene painting studio for Broadway shows. The company has painted over 300 Broadway productions including such shows as The Producers, Hairspray, Spam-a-lot, Jersey Boys, Spiderman, and Book of Mormon

Concerned that many of the centuries-old scene painting techniques were being lost to the next generation of artists, Joe founded the Studio and Forum of Scenic Art in 2004. Joe modelled the School after the legendary Polakov Studio (formally known as The Studio and Forum of Stage Design) which was run by designer and teacher Lester Polakov from 1958-1993.

 Joe has had the pleasure of seeing many of his students go on to have outstanding careers. He also teaches Scene Painting and Rendering at SUNY Purchase College in Purchase, New York. 

An interview with Joe is included in the essential book on modern scenic painting,  Scenic Art for the Theatre: History, Tools, and Techniques, by Susan Crabtree and Peter Beudert.

When not at work, you can usually find Joe canoeing some whitewater river with Debra, his beautiful wife of thirty three years, or spending time with his two children Emma and Colin.

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