Ty the
Portrait Guy
George Borum

George Borum has always been an artist. Though previously a sign painter, graphic artist and printer, he is now doing folk art full time and loves it with a passion.

Borum is color blind and many times this shows up in the unusual color combinations incorporated in his work. He works mostly with primary colors, but his patriotic sense is reflected in his regular use of red, white and blue stars and striped themes. He does flat work, assemblages, cutouts, and his “signature signposts.” He also applies his whimsy to many objects like chairs, stools, frames, jugs, etc. To avoid confusion with his late artist father’s work, George turns his last name around and signs his work “MUROB.”

George and his wife Sheila met in 1988, when he was selling his artwork at a flea market. Though living in different states, George invited Sheila to travel to Owensboro, KY to see an exhibition of folk art by Rev. Howard Finster, who more than anyone else, is responsible for the start of the folk art movement back in the 70’s and 80’s. That visit began Sheila and George’s lifelong love of folk art. Finster in fact, would later go on to officiate at their wedding. The Borums now run the Possum County Folk Art Gallery in Osceola, Indiana where most of the illustrations, frames and signposts in this exhibition were acquired.

Meet the Artists

Sheila and George Borum of the Possum County Folk Art Gallery met “Ty the Portrait Guy” at an art show. As they were the only folk artists working the show, Ty had stopped to chat and share his love for folk art, as well as his familiarity with Howard Finster, the “Godfather of Folk Art.”

Ty was working in the printing business at the time. Sheila and George invited him over to their house to show him some of their folk art collection. Ty said he had been drawing from a very young age. His early drawings were of comic book and cartoon characters. After college, he had spent some time as an illustrator, art director, story board artist, glass jewelry maker and painter.

Sheila and George asked Ty what he was doing his talent. On saying, “Nothing,” they encouraged him to try his hand at portraits. With their encouragement, he started out with Bessie Smith and some old blues performers. From that beginning, they watched him blossom. Initially developing his portraits from old photos, he then utilized a bold color palette to create striking, new visions of his subjects. He loved researching his subjects and trying to capture their unique personality in his own way. His work in this exhibition is acrylic on wood, occasionally with elements of collage and often different textures.

Unfortunately, Ty dropped out of touch with the Borums and has not been heard from for quite some time. The illustrations in this exhibition however, are a testament to the innate talent of this remarkable, though largely unknown artist.

© 2013 City of Gainesville Parks Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department