Clipper Ship Mural

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The “Mural Trail”, with Lake County inspired murals (from themes on natural resources, culture, history etc.), include several within the City of Lakeport.   The murals in Lakeport are a joint project between the Rural Arts Initiative, The City of Lakeport, and The Lakeport Main Street Association.

This mural depicting a Pan Am Clipper landing on Clear Lake in 1945, is painted by Ben vanSteenburgh, and is located on 3rd Street in Lakeport.

In the 1940’s, according to the museum Clear Lake was used as an alternate landing area for the Clippers when the weather in the San Francisco bay area wouldn’t allow for landing. Being a seaplane only (no landing gear) created a unique challenge when the weather became a factor. Clear Lake was close enough to be easy to get to, but being inland and at a higher elevation, it was likely to have very different weather as far as visibility is concerned.

 Interestingly, there was no provision for being able to dock the airplanes on the lake, so they would sit out on the lake, with the passengers inside, until the weather improved and they could make the approximate 90 mile trip back to the city by the bay.

An additional story from the museum: This particular plane was named, Anzac Clipper, and is found at a website called Jim Slade’s Air Lines, and the story is titled ‘Forty Minutes To Pearl‘ – it’s the fascinating story of this Pan Am Clipper as it arrived at Honolulu 40 minutes late on December 7, 1941 which meant they received a radio warning that Pearl Harbor was being attacked giving them the opportunity to divert to Hilo to avoid being shot down by the attacking Japanese aircraft. Had they not arrived late, they almost surely would have been a large and easy target, and a tragic civilian loss added to the military losses. It’s an amazing story.

The artist:

Born in Nebraska and raised in Chester County, Pennsylvania, Ben van Steenburgh studied art at Lafayette College and the New York School of Visual Arts. As a freelance artist he worked with several major publishing houses doing both book covers and internal book illustrations including The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, If I had a Horse and Proud Taste for Scarlett and Miniver.

As well as illustration and fine art, van Steenburgh has worked extensively in the field of portraiture and has completed more than 80 portraits, including President Clinton with his daughter Chelsea. His works have been displayed in the Pendragon Gallery (in Annapolis), the Wayne Art Gallery, the Chester County Art Foundation, the Artery, the APA and Golden Fish Gallery.

A few years ago, van Steenburgh moved from Pennsylvania to Lake County and was influenced to create his White Pelican series with the ancient lake Clear Lake and Mt. Konocti volcano in the background. Other series he has created are Golden Girls, Minotaurs, Yoga Women and Angels. The December through January 2018 show at the Wine Studio will feature his Wings series.

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