Much of Shostak’s art reflects his memories of growing up on the prairies during the late forties and fifties. Two best-selling publications When Nights Were Long and Saturday Came But Once a Week reveal some of his personal history.
A coffee table book, For Our Children, consisting of paintings portraying early pioneer settlement in Western Canada, was published in 1991. Working from stories told by the pioneers and from archives, Shostak tried to honestly bring some of the events and experiences to life, not necessarily as they happened, but more how they might have been. Although much research was done, supported by the fact that he himself grew up in pioneering circumstances, the paintings still are his interpretation of events.
In 1997, he collaborated with Victoria writer David Bouchard on the book Prairie Born (Orca Books). His latest publication, Hockey…Under Winter Skies, resonates with anyone who has spent time playing hockey in the great outdoors.
Over the past thirty years, galleries in most major cities in Canada have repeatedly hosted solo exhibitions of Shostak’s work and he has completed many commissioned paintings and editions of silkscreen prints for individuals, organizations and major corporations. Collectors from all over the world have purchased his paintings. The Province of Alberta recognized Peter Shostak’s achievements in 1983, when it bestowed upon him the status of Honorary Alberta Artist. Four large works were featured in the Alberta Pavilion at World Expo 1986 in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2003, he was the recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal in recognition of his contribution to the arts and his community.
Peter Shostak has become known for his portrayal of figures in the landscape, particularly under dark winter skies. Like the painting selected by Mr. and Mrs. Bob Hope, “Maybe I will get new skates for my birthday”, his provocative titles enhance the narrative of his paintings.
In 2005, he and his wife Geraldine moved from Victoria to Courtenay, BC to be closer to their son and Peter’s studio on Hornby Island. While the area where he lives frequently shows up in his landscape paintings, his true inspiration still comes from the farmlands of northeastern Alberta, where he spent his childhood.
He often returns to his native Alberta to photograph and refresh his mental images of the landscape and prairie life. Although his paintings can be photo-based, his ideas to produce a painting come from information gathered from many photos. As he travels to rural areas looking for interaction of people in the landscape, Shostak has found that youth activities have definitely moved indoors, as young people spend more and more time with electronic games. He often wonders from where new artists will draw their inspiration.
For the past five years, Shostak has spent many days out of the studio, painting on location and then bringing the outdoor experience into the studio.