If one enjoys drama, pathos, action, ecstasy and agony, stories that include intrigue, murder, lust for flesh and money, sagas of love so deep one would die for, don’t go to the Bliss Institute of the Performing Arts or the movie theater. Go to Castleton Race track on the 3rd Sunday of every month. There you will see episodes that will both thrill you and break your heart. Most of those stories can’t be told. They reach far too deep into the core of the human condition.
Here in this painting is assembled a full cross section of Belizean society from the wealthy business owner to the poorest street bum, the politicians, pretty girls, dandys and lackeys, rogues, drug dealers and users, wanna be’s, has beens and highly successful entrepreneurs, a collection of race day characters. Oh, yes, and there are horse owners as well.
Take for instance the guy who took the ugly, big headed, unlikely last of the lot, named her Tosoro and with commitment and determination, turned her into horse of the year. Or how about the beautiful black stallion born and bred to run who died in his stall for no apparent reason. There are horses on the track that are grandsons of Aladar, Secretariat, Native Dancer and Mr. Prospector and if you don’t know this illustrious list, shame on you.
This painting is about the back side, the side of the horse you seldom see in the high gloss horse racing journals. It is about the side of the track that only the true lover of racing likes to see. It’s muddy back there. Horse manure, swearing, bites and kicks set the tone. It’s where the jockeys, trainers and owners gather into tight little clumps to fuss over the 1200 lb equine machine that since the last race has been pampered, primped, pounded and sometimes punished into a performance specimen.
In life, as in horse racing, the daily training, the hours of preparation, the struggles, heartbreaking loss, overwhelming odds at ever making it to the winners circle are little known or appreciated by the on lookers. All they really care about is the one minute it takes to run around the track. There might even be a trophy presented with great fanfare that ultimately gathers dust on a shelf. But the back side, where the big machine driving muscles are located, the powerhouse of any true success is seldom pointed out as the beautiful part of the whole operation.
This painting is difficult because most of the people in it are actual individuals therefore it is dozens of portraits. It is also difficult because getting everything in proportion and perspective is a challenge. It breaks some of the most staunch rules of art in that there is no real focal point, no strong composition. In horse racing there is no allowance for breaking the rules but in painting and in life, sometimes that is the only way to cross the finish line.