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About Pete Peterson

Pete Peterson

Denver, CO  United States

 1931

"Pete Peterson was born and raised in central Illinois, and grew up proud of his Cherokee heritage and respect for his peoples' ways. It was his father who nurtured his early love of art.

Pete attended the Clinton Fine Arts Center in high school. Among his instructors were Jim Price, John Wisnoski, Art Orr and Sonia Hall. After serving in the Vietnam War he attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, where he studied with Tom Cushing, John Heritage Wright, James Joseph, William Parks and Irving Shapiro, the director of the Academy, and one of America's foremost watercolorists. While there, Pete made an unprecedented move by crossing the line as a student and submitted art for juried selection at the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work was accepted for exhibition and sale. He was twenty-four at the time. 

The impact of the Vietnam War made an indelible mark on Pete's work. He and fellow veterans assembled the Vietnam Veterans Arts Group. The opening of the "Reflexes and Reflections" exhibition in 1981 and N.A.M.E. Gallery in Chicago received many accolades from the media and the art world. The exhibition toured many cities throughout the nation and was documented by PBS in a special presentation. An untitled work by Pete was chosen by Time-Life Books for their history series on the Vietnam Experience and was published internationally.

The Native American Culture has long been the main focal point in Pete's art, but the range of his work runs the gamut of landscapes, portraits, social statements, history, wildlife, military, etc.

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Born in Denver, Colorado, in 1931, Peterson spent four years at sea with the U.S. Navy. His principal duty - as a hand on an ocean-going tug sailing the Aleutian islands, North Pacific, Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean - imprinted the northern waters indelibly in his mind. A return to civilian life allowed him to explore the coasts - from Bath, Maine to the Florida Keys; from San Diego to Point Barrow, Alaska.
While his artistic talents found some expression in his work as draftsman, cartographer, industrial designer and architect, each was a means to an end: painting.
Peterson has been particularly drawn to the transitional time of marine history - 1840 to 1930 - when sails gave way to steam. He admires the grace and romance of the windships and the muscle of the work boats. Though his professional career does include portraiture, figure studies, landscapes, cloudscapes and still life, images of water and wind always prevail.
Peterson died in 2002 from cancer.

Artwork by Pete Peterson