Ed Bordett, a Fincastle-based artist, describes his work as embodying contemporary realism, but with a strong abstract sense of design.
Photo by Aila Boyd

By Aila Boyd


Editor’s note: This article is the third in a series of articles that will feature all 14 artists that will be participating in the 2019 Open Studios-Botetourt tour on October 26 and 27. Each week leading up to the two-day event, The Herald will feature one artist – highlighting their passion for their chosen artform.

Ed Bordett is a painter and printmaker who works out of his studio/gallery, formerly an Oldsmobile dealership, in Fincastle.

He grew up on Long Island, New York.

He studied at New York’s National Academy of Fine Arts, which he said provided him with a “classical training.” He finished his education at Florida’s Ringling School of Art. Eventually settling in the Roanoke Valley, he called Roanoke home for over a decade. He later relocated to Fincastle, where he has resided for over 30 years.

Bordett describes his work as portraying “contemporary realism with a strong abstract sense of design.” His goal, he said, is to portray life in the time period that he has lived. He added that his paintings have changed throughout the years because cars, fashion, and technology are all constantly evolving.

Although he likes integrating certain nostalgic qualities into his paintings, he said that he likes elements that snap them back to the time period that they were created in.

Fluid in multiple mediums, Bordett said that he particularly enjoys using oil and silkscreen printing. 

His paintings, he said, are often triggered by visual responses that he has to what he’s seeing. In general, he likes it when his paintings have a fair amount of complexity and are challenging because they have to hold his interest long enough for him to finish them. Instead of painting cows and barns, he tends to be more drawn to urban landscapes because of all of the architecture. He noted that his upbringing on the streets of New York more than likely influenced his desire to depict urban landscapes in his paintings. “My dad and my grandparents were out at the Bronx, so I have vivid memories of looking out car windows at city streets,” he said. He added that he likes to depict things that have a “seedy quality” and things that aren’t “pretty and shiny.”

He recently travelled to Venice, Italy, which he said greatly inspired him. Having never been there before, he said he “flipped out” over it. While there, he captured what he saw in drawings, photographs, and watercolor paintings. He’s even considering going there for a whole month next year. Trips like the one he took, he said, are his way of keeping things interesting.

Out of all of his works, he said that a series of paintings about fire escapes he did years ago have held up quite well. “They’ve really held up in terms of the abstract quality and a number of different things,” he said. “Some of those pieces are over 30 years old.”

Bordett said that although he doesn’t follow a rigorous schedule for painting and printmaking, he tends to spend more time at work in his studio during spring and fall. Some days he likes to work in complete silence and others he likes to work while listening to music or the news. The objective for him is to get tunnel vision and to lock in on what he’s working on. 

Open Studios-Botetourt, he said, allows people in the community to go into the various artists’ workspaces and get a feel for their personalities. They will have a chance to see works that have been completed, are in progress, and some that have even been tossed aside, he said.

Bordett also serves on the Fincastle Town Council. His current term isn’t due to expire until December 31, 2022.

For more information about Open Studios-Botetourt 2019, visit openstudiosbotetourt.com.