MEMORIES OF PETE BOSTWICK
Memories of Polo at Bostwick field in Westbury, New York are vivid, from the horse trailers, the smells, sitting on car hoods to watching the wild and wonderful action packed matches. I was young and these matches were long after the iconic imagery of the 1930’s and 40’s I have chosen to tackle as a painter. I am the granddaughter of Pete Bostwick, my father’s father. He divorced my grandmother Laura in 1949 and had four new children with his second wife Dolly. This break up left a scar on our family and yet we were able to embrace and enjoy his Polo matches as he aged. My paintings are an idealized view of this incredible athlete.
When I paint I am always tackling “problems” of color. In these pieces, I chose to deliberately work with complementary color relationships. You can study these relationships in each piece: purples, yellows in “Before the Match” and reds, green in “The Internationalist” and “Portrait of a Polo Player”.
I have always known – as the daughter of a World Champion Court tennis player – that to be an accomplished athlete takes incredible commitment and selfishness. I can relate to this as a painter. To really commit to painting one needs to be selfish at times to carve out the time for a dedicated studio practice. Perhaps this is why I chose to render my grandfather in complements. There are always opposites, successes and failures, in all of us, and I think these portraits reveal the desire to immortalize Pete, despite the fact that his life included the sad reality of abandonment of his first family. One never lets go of the archetypal love of a father and grandfather; these paintings celebrate the love we all felt for Pete.
As images of Polo and Steeplechase racing, they strive to capture my grandfather Pete as an icon of the sport, representing more than just himself. The portrait of Pete with equally famous Tommy Hitchcock is meant to symbolize the sportsmanship of the game as two players meet before the match. There is an idealized beauty that someone who did not live in the era can project on the lifestyle of these horsemen. The paintings are about idealization itself, using Polo as the medium. Perhaps Ralph Lauren has stolen the thunder on this one, but I was sure I needed to make my contribution.
My paintings look to the past to find nostalgia, beauty and celebration of a time that no longer exists in the same way. There is something remarkable about Pete’s life in the dedication and drive toward his goals, and the innocence with which he pursued them.