On the surface, Tom Hessel and Jason Borbet couldn’t be more different. Borbet, who goes by the single name Borbay, is a 33-year-old who grew up in Long Island and lives in New York City. Hessel is twice Borbay’s age and has lived in Minnetonka since 1977.
But Borbay—who’s married to Hessel’s daughter, Erin—realized he and Hessel had one key trait in common as soon as he met his in-laws: Both men are artists.
“There were so many similarities in part of our background and our personality that we get along perfectly,” Hessel says.
For the past three weeks, Borbay and Hessel have worked on their pieces for numerous hours together in Hessel’s new art studio. They spent the time chatting, trading tips and listening to the classic rock music they each love.
Hessel and Borbay come from two very different artistic backgrounds. Hessel is experienced in photography and drawing. Borbay is a painter. The pieces they’re creating aren’t anything like each other.
Borbay’s is a brightly colored rendering of Minneapolis’ Grain Belt sign as imagined in daylight, twilight and night simultaneously. He decided to paint the sign as part of a series of landmarks because, “It’s part of the fabric of the community.”
- Watch of video of Borbay creating the piece in the video above. Shortly after he talked with Patch, Borbay sold the piece to a Minnetonka transplant in New York City.
Hessel’s piece is a nearly monochromatic painting called The Shutterbug that is based on a self portrait he took years ago.
“For me, it’s all about people,” he says. “I’ve always been interested in people.
Yet they say their skills complement one another. Borbay shares painting tips with Hessel, while Hessel’s drawing techniques encourage Borbay to focus on his precision before he puts paint to canvas.
“It’s a very good way to create,” Borbay says.
Of course, Hessel and Borbay have other bonds besides art. They both love Erin. Jason and Erin even got married at the Hessels’ home. And now the couple has a 2 ½-month-old daughter who is loved by bother father and grandfather.
Yet art continues to provide a unique connection—a shared way of seeing the world and engaging with each another.
“From the first time we met—and he came here with my daughter and we split a bottle of scotch and the girls went out—we’ve had an excellent rapport,” Hessel says.
To see their works …
- Borbay: The New York-based artist has a website with gallery and blog. His pieces can be purchased here.
- Tom Hessel: The Minnetonka artist has a website with a gallery and information on how to acquire his pieces. Through Dec. 1, he is also exhibiting works at the Linden Hills Dunn Brothers Coffee at 2814 West 43rd Street in Minneapolis. The exhibition contains drawings Hessel did between 1970 and 2013.