The Quarters in Hadley, MA is currently hosting a selection of my paintings in their super cool retro arcade / restaurant!!! I can’t think of a more appropriate place for these painting lol to hang. I spent many hours in arcades playing these very games during the summer, and the place is full of vintage toys and games.
If you’re in the area, you HAVE to check this place out, and pick up a print while you’re there!
The nostalgia and sense of fun is clear in Chris Bordenca’s vibrantly-colored paintings of toys, action figures, and other treasured memorabilia from the 70’s and 80’s. His subjects are iconic and familiar: Star Wars characters, Batman villains, Rubik’s Cubes, video games, sea monkeys, and more, that immediately evoke that pre-internet era, especially for 80’s kids. Chris says: Almost nothing gets forgotten anymore. The past exists in the collective memory of the internet, and we can reach in and physically bring those memories into our present. These paintings are tangible and joyful reminders of the most recent pre-internet past, even if you weren’t an 80’s kid.
10% of sales from this exhibit will be donated to the The Belchertown Education Foundation. BEF is an independent, volunteer, non-profit organization committed to enriching the educational opportunities of students in Belchertown public schools.
About Chris Bordenca: Chris’ work focuses on personal connections to objects and places from his youth in the seventies and eighties, including paintings of action figures, toys, and video games from that era. After a ten-year hiatus he returned to painting in 2018. Since then, he has shown his work around the valley in group shows, and a show in Australia to benefit victims of the wildfires. His painting “Starless Sea With Keys” won first place for acrylic painting at the 2020 Northeast Fine Arts Exposition. Chris has a BFA from UMass Amherst and lives with his family in Belchertown. bordenca.com
PLEASE NOTE: walk-ins are welcome for the gallery. Masks required. Currently we are allowing four customers in the shop at one time.
Q&A with Chris
How has your style changed over the years? I started painting album covers and comic book art on people’s leather jackets in and after high school. In my 20’s I began painting murals in homes and businesses of whatever was asked, but my personal work turned to abstract figurative paintings. I then moved to large non-representational paintings, while still painting murals commercially. Eventually painting other people’s ideas in the murals became tedious, and I became turned off from painting all together. Ten years later, I decided to approach painting the same way that I approached art when I was young. I would paint whatever I wanted. Anything that made me happy. That is what I do now.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist? 1982. When I was seven years old I had a coloring book based on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. One of the images inside included a relatively realist drawing of the dog from the movie. I copied the drawing of the dog, and it was the very first time I felt what it was like to really see the thing I was looking at. I suddenly understood how to look at something and draw an accurate representation of it. It felt like real magic, and I was hooked.
What inspires you? I love tapping into the toys and pop culture from the 70’s and 80’s. I also love old books, abandoned buildings, and beat up vehicles. I like the idea of things managing to survive through time to the present and capturing their magic before they disappear.
What is your creative process like? How do you work? In the studio I basically play with toys for hours until I find the right feeling. I take a ton of photos with different lighting and arrangements.
What is your favorite piece that you’ve created? My current favorites are Toy Chest, Space Invader, and Mission: Unknown
Any advice to young or emerging artists? Make art for yourself, not what other people think you should make, or what you think other people will like.
Images above cropped from: Space Invader, acrylic on canvas, 20×16″ Smile, acrylic on canvas, 20×16″ Hitchhiker, acrylic on canvas, 20×20″
Prints! A small batch of “The Starless Sea & Keys” giclee prints are now available in my shop. Over the next couple of weeks I will be adding small batches of various prints, and an original or two as well. I spend whatever free time I can painting, so I don’t get to the prints often. If you or someone you know is interested, grab ‘em while they’re available!.
“The Starless Sea & Keys”. 14”x11” acrylic on canvas. Winner 1st Place Acrylic – Northeast Fine Arts Show 2020. These keys belonged to my great grandfather. The last few things I’ve read have coincidentally featured keys prominently. First was the The Locke & Key series by Joe Hill that I’ve been told to read by a lot of friends who knew I’d enjoy it. Halfway through that series I learned that Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus, had a new book titled The Starless Sea. Inside the cover are illustrations of all these different keys. In the beginning of the story there is even a reference to Locke & Key. These fantastic stories linked by keys found their way to me at the same time and I remembered that years ago my father gave my son a set of old keys. It wasn’t until I started photographing the keys on the books that I could read the brass name tag. T. J. Kelly or Thomas John Kelly, my great grandfather, after whom my father was named.
Today I am soft-launching the online store for my prints. There is a limited number of prints available for sale right now, with more to come soon. Eventually I’ll be making original paintings available for sale as well, but feel free to contact me if you are interested in an original now.