December 9, 2022


Art Is Experience

John Borek, a serious and zany man of the arts, dies at 71 | Art

1 of the remaining functions of John Borek, one particular of a lot of functions of his daily life, was to deliver 5-foot-tall cardboard cutouts of chocolate rabbits to mates in celebration of Easter, one particular of his preferred holidays.

Borek, a man of a lot of hats recognised for his zany theatrics and critical motivation to the Rochester arts and cultural scene, died Saturday. He was 71 and had been unwell with leukemia.

He was a lot of things to a lot of folks in the metropolis.

There had been his 15 several years as a legislative aide to former Town Councilman Adam McFadden. In February, the Town Council proclaimed Feb. sixteen as “John W. Borek Working day,” celebrating “a daily life story greater than the sum of all its chapters.”

He was the former president of the nineteenth Ward Group Association, and labored with local community advisory systems at the College of Rochester. Several Rochester people recall him behind the counter at The Village Green bookstore on Monroe Avenue, which he owned and operated for several years.

But he could be most effective remembered for his contributions to the arts local community and the identify he created for himself as an artist afterwards in daily life.

At fifty eight, Borek took a sudden desire in the arts. Possibly all those who knew him most effective, who knew of his quirkiness, noticed it coming. He commenced recording rap albums, which includes a track about Michael Jackson’s monkey. He wrote intentionally odd performs, and even done in them, as creative director at Multi-use Group Cultural Heart (MuCCC) on Atlantic Avenue. His resurrection of one particular of the worst performs to have at any time, inexplicably, created its way to Broadway, “Moose Murders,” was documented on the front of The New York Situations arts part.

Don Bartalo, founder of the hummingbird theatre organization, which like so a lot of other small theater businesses observed a residence at MuCCC, called Borek “the spirit” of MuCCC for his insistence that a vast range of voices, races, and beliefs be represented on its stage.

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Experimental theater producer John Borek presenting an offbeat version of

  • Experimental theater producer John Borek presenting an offbeat version of “Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline” at MuCCC.

“John was really imaginative, he was loved by all the actors and directors and playwrights,” Bartalo suggests. “We would fulfill with him when a thirty day period. We had a large amount of entertaining. We also discovered a large amount.”

Borek was both a critical and whimsical man, recognised for sporting loud, colourful shirts and a penchant for screwball films of the forties and ’50s.

Associated: John Borek reflects on a webpage-turner of a daily life

He had planned on undertaking a exhibit called “The E-book of Leuk” at previous year’s KeyBank Rochester Fringe Competition, about his observations on his struggle with leukemia. But a resurgence of the sickness prevented that from happening.

Previous 12 months, Borek released “The Club Van Cortlandt,” a small but marvelous e book about his freshman 12 months at Columbia College, a essential 12 months in his daily life. In recent months, Borek had been publishing on Fb narratives about other chapters of his daily life, essays that browse like what may have turn into one more e book, had he had the time to total it.

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Borek performing in his show

  • Borek undertaking in his exhibit “Pope It Up” at MuCCC.

Information of Borek’s dying prompted an outpouring of tributes on social media, in which mates recalled his a lot of functions of generosity.

Richard Gray Collins, a former felon, wrote of how Borek had stopped him on the street one particular day, admiring the shirt he wore and that he had created. Borek requested if Collins could make him a shirt like it. Collins did, and Borek paid out him well. That possibility partnership ongoing. Even when Collins broke parole and returned to jail, “John did the 12 months violation with me, despatched adequate dollars for me to purchase stuff each a few months,” Collins wrote. “When I arrived residence he said, ‘I won’t do jail all over again so don’t go back.’ ”

Borek wrote “The Club Van Cortlandt” on his cellular phone, generally when sitting down in the waiting place in which his wife of 44 several years, Jackie Levine, was going through therapy for a exceptional neurological sickness.

They didn’t have young children of their individual, but over the several years, and by Levine’s function directing the College of Rochester’s study overseas method, they took a big amount of pupils underneath their wing. Borek and Levine called them their “not young children.”

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  • John Borek

Levine died ten months in the past.

Pals at Borek’s hospice mattress said the previous word he uttered that could be comprehended was “Jackie.”

Jeff Spevak is WXXI’s Arts & Daily life editor and reporter. He can be achieved at [email protected]

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