Fortoul Brothers Lose Valley Metro Light Rail Commission Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations

The Fortoul Brothers are no longer making artwork for a planned Valley Metro station following allegations of sexual misconduct against Isaac Fortoul first reported by Phoenix New Times on June 1.

The artist team of Isaac and Gabriel Fortoul has had a significant presence on the metro Phoenix arts scene for several years. They’ve created murals downtown, partnered with major arts organizations including Phoenix Art Museum and Heard Museum, and created work for festivals such as FORM and Lost Lake.

On May 29, Phoenix artist Merryn Alaka alleged in an Instagram story that Isaac Fortoul sexually harassed and groped her on December 31, 2018. Brittany Lea also came forward on Instagram, accusing Isaac Fortoul of raping her in 2016 after she attended a party at a gallery where the Fortoul Brothers were showing their work

Some metro Phoenix organizations have subsequently removed their work or canceled commissions for artwork.

The city of Phoenix terminated a public art contract with the Fortoul Brothers, which involved work for Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Gabriel Fortoul discussing an early Fourtoul Brothers design for light rail art.EXPAND

Gabriel Fortoul discussing an early Fourtoul Brothers design for light rail art.

Lynn Trimble

Now, Valley Metro says it’s no longer working with the artists on a new South Central light rail extension.

“Valley Metro has concluded the South Central Extension/Downtown Hub artist agreement with the Fortoul Brothers,” a Valley Metro spokesperson told New Times on December 3. “They were paid $61,140 for work performed.”

The work was canceled on November 5. According to Valley Metro, “the work was not advanced beyond the design phase due to a shift in community sentiment on a publicly funded and community-driven art project.”

The Fortoul Brothers were selected for the Valley Metro project, which included design and fabrication work for a station to be located at Central Avenue and Lincoln Street, more than two years ago.

New Times reached out to the Fortoul Brothers for comment, but had not heard back as of this writing.

I Support

  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

A former Fortoul Brothers transit wrap for Valley Metro.

A former Fortoul Brothers transit wrap for Valley Metro.

Fortoul Brothers/Valley Metro

Since being selected to create a light rail station design, they have done other work for Valley Metro — including a mural wrap for buses and a temporary artwork previously installed at the Central Avenue and Roosevelt light rail station in Roosevelt Row.

Valley Metro has not announced whether a new artist or artist team has been selected for the Central Avenue and Lincoln Street station.

The Fortoul Brothers have denied the allegations against Isaac Fortoul. 

Keep Phoenix New Times Free… Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who’ve won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism’s existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our “I Support” membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.