For David Borenstein, creating sculptures is an escape from the strictures of rules he must adhere to in his work as an architect.
Two of his pieces, both untitled, are now on display as part of Sculpture Expo 13 in the Village of Red Hook. “Untitled Welded Steel” is located in the field directly south of the Red Hook Emporium on South Broadway and “Untitled 425” is in Memorial Park just north of the village center on North Broadway, across from Red Hook Business Park.
Borenstein is based in Milan and describes himself as an “architect, builder, painter, sculptor, and photographer.” His portfolio of local buildings includes the renovation of the Rhinecliff Hotel and Mercato restaurant in Red Hook.
He told The Observer that making sculptures gives him an outlet from the rules and building codes and dealing with clients that are all part of architecture, a field that requires planning at every stage.
With sculpture, he said, there are no preconceived ideas. “One of the things I find liberating and wonderful…is the ability to be a lot more playful and not as constrained. The outcome is a surprise to me, too,” he added.
Borenstein said the steel I-beams that make up the two sculptures now displayed in Red Hook came from demolished buildings, though not from any projects he has been involved in.
He added that his creative process with these two was the same as with all of his pieces. “It’s putting elements together and seeing how they work and changing them until they look good…I don’t start with an idea, there isn’t a drawing,” he said.
He lets his creative sense guide him as he works with the materials. “I did weld them but things start to fit together [on their own]. They just kind of fall together and then they look good and then you stop. If they don’t look good, then you obsess about it and then you go back to it and you change it,” he said.
Borenstein added that sometimes he will spend hours thinking about a piece and then creating it will take seconds. “Sometimes things happen by accident. [The viewer] has to be open-minded and appreciate that some effort has gone into it. Whether you like it or not, at least give the process some respect,” he said.
Borenstein majored in fine arts with a focus on sculpture and received his MFA in 1984 from Bard College. He earned the degree during the summers while he was studying architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he got a Masters in Architecture in 1986.
But his passion for sculpture pre-dates even his college days. Borenstein says he finished his first piece when he was five years old — and he still has it. “I’ve been doing this as long as I can remember,” he added.
Sculpture Expo 13 will run until Nov. 20. It is a seven-sculpture exhibition organized by Red Hook Community Arts Network (RHCAN). All seven can now be viewed in various locations around the Village of Red Hook. The Observer is profiling a new artist in the exhibit each issue.