By Holly Tarson
On the bank of the Roundout Creek in Kingston, underneath a trestle bridge frequented by freight trains, magical transformations are taking place in an unassuming pale-blue garage that houses Tyler Borchert’s art studio, StoneStyling. From driftwood, stones and rusty iron cables, Tyler builds sculptures that are synergies of man and nature. His eyes sparkle with inspiration and one dark curl peeks out from under his knit cap as he gives a tour of his many works in progress. He points out the light table made from a tree root that has grown around a brick, and a clock face he plans to mount to a tall base of driftwood. One wall is covered with pegboard to hold his driftwood collection. Tyler calls it his “Wall of Faces” because he sees faces and bodies in the smooth, gnarled or twisted debris he retrieves from the banks of the Hudson. These faces might wait for years until the perfect companion wood or stone comes along to make a body that becomes a sculpture.
Tyler works outside his studio, too. Inspired by empty spaces in nature, he will often pause while hiking or kayaking to create a monument of rock. He fills the void with towers that seem impossibly balanced, working and reworking one rock on top of another until he finds the harmonious sweet spot. In some cases, he wades into the Hudson River at low tide to build sculptures in the water. (Check out some pictures of his work at www.stonestyling.com.) These spontaneous works are battered by wind and water, and eventually, they fall. But that doesn’t bother him. His art isn’t about permanence. He says, “It’s just art. You create something and it disappears.”
In 2010 he noticed a dull patch of land along the waterfront on Dock Street in Kingston and decided fill it with spontaneous sculptures “to give people a reason to continually walk down there.” Years later, it’s become a regular interactive activity he calls Downtown Sundays. “This is where it’s really at. It’s me giving back to my city.” People come to watch him work, and he loves to listen as they speculate about the art. “It makes conversation about what your imagination sees.”
Tyler’s current project was commissioned by a woman in Dutchess County who wanted to repurpose an old oil tank. She definitely had come to the right place for transforming some- thing reclaimed into art. Together they conceived the concept of a cow sculpture that could hold firewood. Aptly titled “Cow,” it will meld form and function. The oil tank is becoming the body; an old milk jug will be the head. Tyler’s fashioning legs from a pipe he got out of the Hudson while kayaking. The tail is a frayed iron cable, rusted from years in the river. Soon this cow will take its place in a rural setting, like so many pastured cows in the Hudson Valley. And Tyler will move on to his next project. It might be a mosaic wall or bluestone waterfall. Whatever it is, it promises to be captivating and inspiring, much like the artist who will build it.
For more information about Tyler and the current progress of “Cow,” visit www.stonestyling.com.