Artist Portrait: Ken Borchardt, colorist and sculptor
How do you turn a building contractor career into a life of creative sculpture, copper art and more? “You don’t doubt yourself -- you just do it,” says Ken Borchardt, smiling as he remembers his Marine Corps tenet. “I had always been interested in art so when I sold my business at age 40, it was a step I wanted to take.”
So Ken built a custom studio in Minneapolis, learned how to do both direct sculpting and soft clay modeling and for some seven years did art shows on weekends (27 a year) throughout the Midwest selling his custom bronzes.
“It has its highs and lows. We (wife Cynthia) met so many artists, developed client collectors, spread the word and set up and sold art. We had fun.”
Cynthia had grown up in a family of art enthusiasts and was used to the life. Ken loved what he was doing and found a very receptive public. The couple traveled to Scottsdale for 10 years and participated in the AZ Fine Art Expo that is still part of their lives.
Ken’s artistic life started with falling in love with a Chief Little Crow’s headdress and deciding he had to “make a head to go with it.” He went home and began to carve in wood and that led to successful work in exotic woods and stone.
Problems with carpal tunnel in both hands scared the sculptor and led him to turn to working in soft clay after surgery. He learned about molds, waxes, patina for clay, then bronzes. He was determined.
Upon arriving in Sedona two years ago, Borchardt reached out to renowned Sedona sculptor Daniel Newman, an exhibiting sculptor at Exposures Gallery for many years. Newman offered to mentor Ken and the two are a potent force: an engineer and a contractor who know how to sculpt and produce. They meet once a week as friends and artists.
Ken’s recent work has been in copper art wall pieces. “People love something dramatic and beautiful for their homes and my copper art has been well received. Few folks work in both the direct sculpting of stone and copper wall art; I love developing color by means of oxidizing the surface of the copper.”
With a huge investment in heavy equipment, stones and marble, copper, transport trailers and more, Ken is busy working daily in his custom studio in Camp Verde.
“I’m a lucky guy. I get to do what I love. My work reaches people, finds a home. It works," he said.
Ken smiles as he talks about life in Sedona. Wife Cynthia commutes to Yavapai College in Prescott for her job as an executive assistant while the two enjoy getting to know Arizona’s charms as new residents.
Borchardt’s work is on display at the Canyon Mesa Clubhouse, 500 Jacks Canyon Road starting in July, open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visit KennethSculptures.com for more information.