Boris Garbe is the colorful curator of the Art Gallery at Mills Park.
The Winter Park/Maitland Observer is proud to present the first edition of the Harry’s Styles column. We’ll be taking a look at the elegant and extravagant fashions in the Black Tie community that give the Central Florida social scene so much heart.
BORIS GARBE, CURATOR OF THE ART GALLERY AT MILLS PARK
There are two Boris Garbes.
He’ll be the first to tell you that, of course. One is Boris the Person — a 52-year old gay man born in Berlin, Germany who has spent 37 years in Winter Park.
This Boris was a teacher for 15 years before trying his luck as a Realtor (a pretty bad one, if you hear him tell it). He dressed fine but certainly nothing that stands out. While he was teaching Spanish through sign language, he stuck to his polos and slacks. You know, as teachers do.
Then you have Boris the Curator – the hyper-energetic personality who now runs the Art Gallery at Mills Park and loves wearing wild, paint-spattered suits that are impossible to ignore. This Boris runs back and forth in his lobby, spins around to try out a different but equally flashy outfit, jumps up on a couch to pose for a few seconds before hopping down to check on his dachshund, Lump.
“You have to be a character to deal with (the arts world),” Garbe said. “You have to be outrageous.”
It’s a role he has relished for the past five years, and that enthusiasm is infectious.
Put On A Show
The man has a low tolerance for boredom in the art world. He actually used to hate going to art galleries.
“(Curators) would be giving a tour, and they’d say ‘Well as you know, in the 17th century … ‘Well I didn’t know that, you just made me feel stupid!’” Garbe said.
Instead, Garbe tries to do the opposite.
“When someone’s at one of my functions, I want to break down the barrier between you and me,” Garbe said.
He’s good at that. It’s often hard to keep up with him — literally. While showing me around the lobby, we’re walking forward, backward, he’s jumping on the couch, back down, standing on the giant chair, running to the stairs, and on and on. As far as tours go, it’s a blitz. The rooms become his jungle gym and his obvious excitement about it all (“Let’s go upstairs! There are Dr. Evil swivel chairs!”) makes the whole experience a lot more fun.
Which leads us to his clothes. Garbe is fond of the outfits he wears to art galleries — bright, multi-colored jackets and dress pants with the most intricate and out-there designs you’ll see this side of a circus ringmaster. Some have Native American and Christian iconography, others are spattered with every color in the rainbow. One thing is for sure — they’re impossible to miss.
“When you wear one, you feel all the eyes on you,” Garbe said
They all come from the same man — Daniel Chimowitz, a San Francisco-based designer who comes up with the garbs that Garbe loves to wear. The pair had something of a meet-cute in Miami; after running into one another on the street, they came to an agreement through which Garbe would show off Chimowitz’s clothes at his functions. Garbe is, in their eyes, walking art.
Garbe calls the clothing his warrior capes — they make him feel strong.
“I never would have worn these (clothes) five years ago,” he said. “Now, I can’t imagine wearing anything else.”