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 designed by Ben vanSteenburgh III, and painted by Michael and Violet Divine, 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: Ben vanSteenburgh III
Born in Nebraska and raised in Chester County PA, Ben vanSteenburgh 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 published book covers and internal book illustrations. Ben’s works have been displayed in the Penndragon Gallery (in Annapolis), Wayne Art Gallery, Chester County Art Foundation, Artery, Chaddsford Gallery, APA and Golden Fish Gallery. In Lake County, Ben is/has been shown at MAC gallery, the Main Street Gallery, the Wine Studio, Fore Family Winery, Smiling Dog Winery, Vigilance, Twin Pines Casino and Transformation Yoga Studio.
The painters: Michael and Violet Divine
Born in Connecticut in 1976, Michael showed a proficiency in art at a young age. He studied religion and writing at Syracuse University in New York and through his studies in comparative religions, developed a deep appreciation for Eastern philosophy and mysticism. While at Syracuse, he continued to create while also pursuing his own independent studies in fine art, art history, and art criticism. He formally withdrew from school after two years to concentrate more fully on his artistic explorations.
Michael has spent much of his adult life painting, traveling, and honing his artistic skills. Throughout his colorful life, he has actively pushed the boundaries of his creative endeavors, exploring his personal evolution while concentrating on archetypes of human emotional experience and how they play out in our relationship to the world. He feels that life is an ever-evolving dance, centering around creating a healthy coexistence with the world at large. Michael continues to draw inspiration from a wide variety of sources – music, art, architecture, politics, and more – while exploring philosophies and practices that inspire him including Buddhism, Yoga, dance, and various forms of meditation.
Michael lives in California with his wife Violet. Together, they work on continuously co-creating a happier and healthier world.
“Violet and I have been doing our best to brave the cold while working on another mural in Lakeport, CA. They are so into all their murals and the response we get over and over again while working on them is great. This image of a clipper plane landing in the lake – they used to do that in the 40s and 50s: land sea planes here straight from Honolulu – was designed by Ben van Steenburgh. He is in his mid 70s and we were asked to execute the mural, doing our best to stick to his original vision while embellishing as we see fit. To be honest, it’s the first time, I think, that’s I’ve ever done a mural of someone else’s design. It’s really coming along splendidly.”
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