Exhibit: Rick Borg at Sean Christopher Gallery

  • Photo by Eric Wagner
From the December 15, 2011 edition

Sean Christopher Gallery is currently home to a dense parade of the unusual life forms that have sprung from the brain of veteran folk artist Rick Borg.

There are cats, turtles, a black alligator, a purple horse and a variety of painted human figures in wide-brimmed hats. Another figure, made of thin sheet metal, sticks out from the center of a painted spiral on a found wood surface, reaching out to a small boat for rescue in the work “Save the Punk.”

“People get a kick out of it — even the non-artsy folks,” Borg said.

Borg has been making and selling his naively styled work around Columbus for more than 25 years. He’s a frequent presence at Gallery Hop, where he sets up a gallery on the street during warmer months, and the artist’s work is a constant on the walls at Alana’s Food and Wine.

Borg started painting while attending OSU, and got right back to it after a three-year stint as a golfer on the PGA tour in the early 1980s.

His creatures come out of daydreams and the subjects Borg most enjoys.

As he explained, “I’m like a kid. I want to do a tiger or a horse because it’s a fun idea to start with. Lots of times, it’ll take a life of its own, and I’ll decipher it later. Sometimes you can hit your stride early and you don’t realize you’ve been doing it for hours.”

The gallery features more than 60 of Borg’s works, but the artist has “hundreds and hundreds more” in storage, and plans to switch up the exhibition for January Gallery Hop.

The current selection includes works that date back to 1986. But many, such as “It’s OK To Be Confused,” were made in the past year, the time between losing his longtime place over Larry’s Bar and his recent move to Milo Arts Center.

“I’ve been staying with friends over the past year, and I’ve been so confused because I couldn’t find a place to live. I had all this stuff all over the place,” Borg explained.

“I went to Hocking Hills to hike, for some sense of clarity. Sitting there, I got this message. Then my confusion didn’t feel so confusing, and I came back and did that painting in one sitting.”