Borbay Radio City.jpeg

Victor artist Jason Borbet poses next to his piece, “Radio City Music Hall,” before starting another painting livestream on Monday. He’s wearing what he calls his standard painting attire: a sweater and pajama pants.

Local artists get creative during social distancing

Working alone at home is nothing out of the ordinary for Victor resident and artist Jason Borbet, aka Borbay, but social distancing has precluded the extroverted character from his usual outlets including pond hockey, early season golf tournaments, and a budding career as an auctioneer.

“Anyone who plays hockey with me can attest, when I get in a locker room I won’t shut up,” he said.

To blow off some social energy and offer a diversion to those of us sitting at home, Borbet has started filming live Facebook videos of himself as he works on one of his signature neon architectural pop paintings.

His piece du jour, the five foot by five foot “Radio City Music Hall,” is grandiose in size and perspective, with the sign and building only partly in view and looming brightly over the observer. Over the past week, Borbet has filmed the slow process of illuminating the neon parts of the painting and giving the piece the trademark Borbay glow. He’s nearly finished, and estimates that he’ll have spent between 120 and 150 hours total on the piece.

“Buckle up, it’s gonna be a crazy ride,” he warned his audience jokingly at the beginning of one video. He describes his sessions as meditative or even glacial in pace, but said that when people check back in after a few days, they appreciate his progress.

“Ironically, this is the most action Radio City is seeing right now,” he said, referring to the sweeping closures in New York City, as he applied a third coat of bright yellow paint to the H in “Music Hall.”

Occasional laughs and shrieks from another room give away the presence of small children also stuck at home. While working Borbet sometimes answers viewer questions or explains the toxicity of cadmium paint. On St. Patrick’s Day he invited his social media fans to join him in a toast. During another session, he painted while his friend DJ Cut la Whut spun discs virtually from his own studio.

Viewers are now expecting videos and connecting with them, he said. “This is a really interesting time to get a window into other people’s lives. This could be the new normal for even a year or two, and this could take a major toll on people’s emotional states, but I hope we can ride the positives.”

Borbet isn’t the only local artist using the internet as an outlet. Teri Mclaren, the owner of the Local Galleria in Driggs and the author of the children’s book “Beezie Bananabean and the Very Wise Unicorn,” has started offering free kid-friendly art lessons on Facebook each Thursday. Mclaren has taken her popular Wine and Palettes events virtual as well. Tetonia filmmaker Christian Jensen created a Facebook page, the Forum for Teton Valley Creatives, as a place for connection and collaboration between local artists.

Helen Seay, known for her wildlife paintings and poster designs, has released some of her black and white illustrations for free to Wyoming Wildlife Advocates to be used as coloring pages. Michele Walters of Teton Paint and Sip and the Tribe Artist Collective out of Tetonia is offering online interactive classes at a discount. The price included a pre-sketched canvas, easel, paint, and brushes.

“It’s important to create during these trying times,” Walters wrote on her website.

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