Daily Inspiration: Meet Boris Garbe

Today we’d like to introduce you to Boris Garbe of Mills Art Gallery

Introducing: Boris Garbe of Mills Art Gallery! In this article, Boris Garbe is interviewed by the Orlando Voyager on March 31, 2021.


Hi Boris, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?


Welcome to my hectic but satisfying life in the Orlando arts community. My latest chapter—podcasts and web shows—started only five years ago. In 2016 I joined the local arts community. This is when I launched Mills Gallery (in the Mills 50 section of Orlando) as the gallerist. Before that, I was a Spanish and sign language teacher for 15 years. I knew only a little about the art business, but thanks to a team of experts who guided me, plus the many artist friends I’ve made, Mills Gallery succeeded. For me, it’s become important to constantly seek new challenges and even reinvent myself so that I stay relevant to the art world, the community, and the people I try to help. Through those art connections, I was introduced to the world of podcasts, and in 2017 decided to branch out and try my luck in that space. Artist Marla E and I co-hosted the web series “Kiss My Art.” We also had a podcast, “Live Arts,” that ran two years, plus a segment on iHeartRadio’s “Connections” show.



In 2019 we started doing a live version of our web series at Maxine’s on Shine, a top-rated Orlando restaurant. That same year Marla E and I met Chris Fioravantti at an event. Marla and I immediately recognized this young man’s potential as a host and decided to create a show for him through our production company, BORMA. That show—“The Experience with Chris Fio” (as he’s now known)—premiered in February 2020 through PFT Media, Orlando’s largest podcast distributor. The show was an immediate success, garnering top ratings and voted #2 best podcast in Orlando Magazine’s “Best of Orlando 2020.” Marla and I learned so much from producing it that we decided to continue on this road and create more shows. This year I’ve teamed up with Steve Etchie, co-owner of PFT Media, to create three new ones. The first new show is “Let’s Get Married,” a wedding-planning advice show with Maxine Earhart, co-owner of Maxine’s on Shine, as co-host. Maxine and I walk young engaged couples through the minefield of putting a wedding together. We advise them on how to choose venues, menus, decor and ambience.



We also talk to them about why they believe they’re a good fit for each other. It’s a unique concept that’s already created buzz. The second show is “What a Day, Kids!” This podcast features a young teacher, Melissa Winston, as she experiences day-to-day issues with her special-needs students. Melissa, who is an advocate for children, will talk to experts as well as parents and some of her students. This is a motivational podcast with a personal touch, filled with humor and hope as well as advice. The third one is “Tenor & Toneless,” in which world-renowned tenor Rafael Cavero and I discuss opera and classical music. We’ll talk music, and take a deep dive into why these art forms aren’t taught in school anymore, why they aren’t particularly relevant in today’s youth culture, and what can be done about that.


Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?


I’ve had my fair share of challenges. But I’ve never shied away from them. It started with me having to move from one country to another at a young age and having to learn a new language not once but twice in my lifetime. Twice I had to get accustomed to a new culture and a new way of doing things. And twice I had to form a social life and new friends. My life has been full of colorful ups and downs. I was a successful teacher of Spanish and sign language and got to work with Koko the gorilla on language skills. I also had to survive alcoholism and completely revamp my lifestyle. I am now sober 20 years. Everyone has their preference on how to face a challenge. I learned early to let people help me deal with mine. I’ve never been afraid to ask people who knew more than I do to assist me. By letting professionals guide me, I’ve been able to do things I would have never been able to do on my own. Whether it’s running a world-class gallery or creating a dynamic, popular podcast that tapped into the local youth culture and became a success, I faced it head-on and made it happen. Challenges need to be analyzed and dealt with accordingly. Some can be overcome all by yourself, but most need the help and assistance of people who know more than you. I’m glad I can say I’ve been able to turn most of my life challenges into opportunities.


Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I was a Spanish and Sign Language teacher for fifteen years, later I became a Realtor, and my latest self-reinvention has me running one of Orlando’s most innovative galleries. Mills Gallery has become a hub for art, fashion and music. We have also began to specialize in helping artists improve their résumés and broaden their experience. One of our team members, artist Kristy Lee, gives seminars on how to approach galleries. She covers a wide range of topics, from how to showcase their works, how to approach the gallery, make appointments and make a good impression at those appointment, such as how to dress and being on time.


At Mills Gallery, we care as much about the artist as we care about the art. Personally, I’ve gotten in hot water for admitting I care more about the artist and their well-being than about the product they create. One of the most exciting projects I’m part of this year is a show called “Art AF.” It will focus on the plight of the Orlando art scene and how we as a community can help the art scene regain its footing. The show will be co-hosted by influencer Ted Bogert, Orlando Arts editor Cindy Bowman LaFronz, and me. We’ll talk with politicians and well-known local and regional artists and celebrities. We’ll ask them point-blank to show us how they help the arts and how the community can also move this initiative forward. The show will drop in May.


What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?


Even though Marla and I already had one successful podcast—“Live Arts,” produced by The Timucua Arts Foundation—we paid little attention to the actual creation of that podcast since we were more concerned with content. Two years later, when we were ready to produce “The Experience with Chris Fio,” many people told us we wouldn’t be able to create a podcast because we had little knowledge of the actual workings of that type of show. I could tell that most of the people who were trying to talk us out of this venture wanted to make sure we didn’t injure our careers. But Marla and I felt that any personal fears, doubts or excuses we had shouldn’t stand in our way. I had already struggled with self-doubt setting up and running my gallery.


At the time, I had been honest about my lack of experience and incomplete art education, and that led to insecurity and a lot of panic attacks. I slowly began to realize that fears, doubts and excuses are weapons we use to protect ourselves. What they really do is self-sabotage. When I finally decided to start a new podcast, I put fears and doubt aside. I even made a point of talking openly about my lack of expertise. When I did, I found that people were more apt to offer help and solutions. By actually doing what I was afraid to do, I started to enjoy my work, and my self-esteem grew immeasurably. My fears of failing at something and bringing shame to my career were simply not founded in reality.


“The Experience with Chris Fio” quickly became a hit, and we started to attract amazing guests who approached us about being on the show. I had never experienced success like this. It felt amazing. Marla and I realized that producing shows was something we were good at! She began producing a web series called “Harold Garde Unfiltered” for abstract artist Harold Garde. And I decided to produce three new podcasts this year. The lesson learned is simple: Being cautious is good. It leads to carefully thought-out decisions and choices, which in turn lead to growth and satisfaction. Being overly, unreasonably cautious, on the other hand, can paralyze. And that leads to stagnation.


Read This Article In Orlando Voyager

Mills Art Gallery

Mills Art Gallery

The Art Gallery at Mills Park’s mission is to provide the Orlando arts community with the highest quality visual arts in a vibrant, inclusive environment.

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