For today’s featured artist, I decided to do Pierre “Peb” Bellocq! I LOVE his cartoons! I had such a fun time doing this post! Here is a bit about Peb that I got from his site:
Pierre “Peb” Bellocq~
Location: live and work in studio in Princeton, NJ
Every time cartoonist Pierre Bellocq, better known as Peb, is featured on the pages of the Daily Racing Form he’s going to provoke you in some way, whether it’s to laugh, to cry, to think or to just smile. It’s been that way since April 1, 1955 when Peb’s first cartoon, one coinciding with opening day at the old Jamaica Racetrack, appeared on the pages on the Morning Telegraph, then the sister paper of the Racing Form.
A year earlier, he arrived in the U.S., at the invitation of Laurel Race Course owner John D. Schapiro, to do artwork for the inaugural Washington, D.C. International, which gave him an introduction to American racing and led to the job at the Form.
Sometime he tackles sensitive issues, like the one where a horse chastises his jockey for excessive whipping. “You made your point, Mac,” he says to the rider. Some are just about fun, like the one where a man, showing off his paddock filled with horses with incredibly long noses, says, “I concentrate on photo-finish breeding.” Sometimes he knows just what to say and draw, like the poignant cartoon that showed a saddened Foolish Pleasure in his stall the morning after the Ruffian match race, wearing a Ruffian pin.
With his, imagination, his wit and his innate ability to bring out the true character of a person in his drawings, Peb probably could have gone on to be one of the great political cartoonist of his time, and, for a while, he was getting pulled in that direction. For a few years, Walter Annenberg owned both the Racing Form and the Philadelphia Inquirer and had Peb pulling double duty, doing political cartoons for the Inquirer and racing cartoons for the Form. In the early 1970s, Annenberg sold the Inquirer and the new owners of that paper wanted Bellocq to stick to politics. It was an easy decision. Horse racing, not politics, was his life. “I was born into racing,” said Peb. “My father was a jump jockey in the south of France and may grandfather was a trainer. His father was a breeder. I was among horses right from the start.” So Peb devoted the remainder of his remarkable career mostly to racing although he has enjoyed sketching other aspects of the horseworld as well.
Over the years, there have been so many classics. He says one of his favorites was the front-page cartoon for the Belmont Stakes, where he linked Philadelphia legend Smarty Jones to Philadelphia legend Rocky Balboa. He’s always liked to link a race to current events. There was a cartoon depicting the notorious rogue Coronado’s Quest before the 1998 Travers. He took one of President Clinton’s recent explanations for his bad behavior, jumbled a few words and made them work for Coronado’s Quest, who ended up saying, “Now, I must put it right. And I am prepared to do whatever it takes to do so. I have important work to do, real opportunities to seize.” He even managed to make the horse and the President look alike. He says that cartoon is another one of his all-time favorites. Peb does Smarty Jones for the cover of Daily Racing Form.
Another gift is his ability to bring out the character of the people he sketches. Jack Van Berg is rough and gruff. Julie Krone is an imp. Bob Baffert is confident and just a little bit cooler than anyone else. You always know more about his characters than the color of their hair or the shape of their noses. “It’s almost some kind of mystical thing to grasp the inner character of a person,” he said. “It’s hard to explain. Naturally, you want to study the person and try to find out what motivates the person and what their character is and translate that into life.” Some people are easy to draw. Some are not. “The hardest person I ever tried to draw was Eddie Maple,” he said. “People like him that have fine lines and regular features are hard to do,” Peb said. “I struggled with him for a long time before I got down his likeness. Some others have been great to do, like Eddie Arcaro, Cordero, Shoemaker, McAnally, Mandella, Frankel. Frankel is superb to draw. He looks like a cat out of Alice in Wonderland.”
Like most of the rest of us, he enjoys the aspects of the sport that bring out its beauty and its class. You’ll often find Peb working on a sketch in the paddock at Saratoga, but it will be a rare day that he’s at Aqueduct in the winter. ” I have tried to bring my heritage and my background from France into this job,” he said. “In France and in England, you still find an element of sport and beauty that is at the heart of the racing there. I try to depict that in my drawings. In America, the outlook is a little different. I try to export from my country the sophistication, the charm and the beauty of horse racing and translate it into racing in this country with the addition of humor. Sometimes people may find what I do to be esoteric because I still look at things through the eyes that fell in love with European racing.” No such explanations are needed. The important part if that he makes people laugh and think and has done so for over 50 years. It’s been a remarkable run.
Peb is also the founder and president of the Amateur Jockeys Association, an organization which fosters the love of competitive racing by those who ride purely for the enjoyment of the sport.
“Racing started out with amateurs and erupted into the sport it is today,” he said during one of his many visits to Saratoga Springs to work on “L’Etalon Vert.” “The (amateur) sport is huge in Europe … The problem in this country is the word ‘amateur.’ In France it means ‘for pleasure’; in America it means ‘doesn’t know what they are doing,” he laughed.
The AJA organizes races at almost every race track on the East Coast (including Saratoga) and features primarily exercise riders who have a passion for riding but not necessarily the opportunity or the size requirements to become professional jockeys.
Do you own any horses that you use as models for your work?I used to own few horses in France in the 70’s. Now my only son Pierre, Jr. And his wife Martine train and race a few horses in California.
I saw on your site that you were a jockey when you were younger. Where did you race-in the US or in any countries?I never was a “Jockey”. I used to ride in France as an Amateur ( called Gentlemen-Riders) Won a few races in Belgium where my brother Louis was training.
When did you fist start drawing? Have you always drawn cartoons?I still save albums of my early work when I was only 11. Always drew cartoons, starting around 1936…Attracted by great cartoonists in the French Presse such as SEM, Daumier, etc…
Why did you decide to draw cartoons?Mostly doing Caricatures. Drawing faces of people..Being born in a horsemen family. I wanted to create Horses with human emotions and expressions.
Do you work in any other mediums?I like pen and ink of course, but love Acrylics when I create large works, like Murals ( Belmont, Gallaghers,etc.) Oils also, but for private works.
Do you have any upcoming events/shows coming up?
Nothing big is planned right now. I am please to contibute a weekly sketch for the Toroughbred Daily News (TDN)I saw that you did stained glass panels. Would you tell me a little bit more about them? Have you done any more recently?Those stained glass panels were done to decorate the Directors’ lounge at Roosevelt Raceway in the 70’s. They were beautiful and I was very very proud of them. Then the racetrack closed, and my “vitraux” disappeared God knows where …I have been totally unable to found out what happened to them. Very sad.~
Peb also did Harness Racing Cartoons! Here a few of them~
Here are a few photos of Peb Murals:
DEL MAR Mural~
PEB finished a huge mural depicting the famed history of the Del Mar Race Course in celebration of its 70th birthday. What salute to Del Mar would be complete without “The Schnozz,” Jimmy Durante, as well as comedy kings W. C. Fields and Red Skelton and the suave, malevolent “gangster” George Raft?
Among horse race figures of the past are jockeys Johnny Longden, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Bill Shoemaker, Chris McCarron, Eddie Delahoussaye, George Woolf, Jerry Lambert ,and Ralph Neves. Mike Smith, Alex Solis, and Kent Desormeaux form a more recent vintage. Trainers include father-and-son Farrell and Gary Jones, Tom Smith of Seabiscuit fame, Buster Millerick, Ed Gregson, Bob Baffert, Ron McAnally, Charlie Whittingham, Robert Frankel, Jack Van Berg, Neil Drysdale, and Richard Mandella.
Among the other major racetrack figures are C.S. Howard, E.B. Johnston, Clement Hirsch, John and Betty Mabee, Rex Ellsworth, Robert and Beverly Lewis, Sid and Jenny Craig, and Allen Paulson.
Hope you all enjoyed these horse cartoons! Thanks Peb for responding to my email and for answering my questions, too!
Huh? What? Well, I will believe that when I see flying Shetlands !