The first time Fred Dobbs drove up the driveway to Howard Borton’s home in Sooke, he couldn’t believe what he saw.
As president of the Vancouver Island Sculptors Guild, Dobbs had planned to meet Borton, a local artist, to check out his work that would be featured in the first annual Sculpture Splash, an art event at Macaulay Point in Esquimalt.
Dobbs, along with his girlfriend, originally had difficulty locating the home, and just as they began to think they were lost, the couple came across what Dobbs called “an oasis.”
There were manicured lawns that were the base for several “colossal, gleaming” sculptures. They drove past bears, gorillas and eagles that had been welded and sculpted from recycled bumpers of old Cadillacs.
At the top of the driveway was Borton, standing roughly six-foot-four-inches tall, with his dog at his side.
“He worked big, he was a big man, he had a big heart and a big spirit and just everything about him was big. A big personality and he had a booming voice,” Dobbs said. “You could be in a room with 100 people and know Howard was there because he had a very distinct voice.”
Borton then proceeded to tell Dobbs about his artwork and his love for vintage Cadillacs. The duo quickly formed a close friendship that blossomed over the years — a friendship built on a respect for the arts and making Sculpture Splash a success.
Borton passed away in the fall of last year after a battle with cancer. His memory will continue to live on this weekend at Scuplture Splash, an Extravaganza by the Sea, where friends and family will honour him in the form of one of his signature chrome structures.
“Dragon,” a 20-foot-long dragon, with a 14-foot wing span will be on display.
“He helped springboard us (Sculpture Splash) into being. Had it not been for Howard we would not have put on the kind of show that we did during the first year,” Dobbs said.
This year’s event has more than 40 artists, including three international sculptors, and roughly 200 pieces of three-dimensional art which will be on display Sept. 17 to 18.