The Lake County Rural Arts Initiative (LCRAI) partnered with the Lake County Arts Council and the Lakeport Main Street Association in 2018 to improve the county’s economic viability by making it an arts and culture destination.
The “Mural Trail” was created for this purpose, in which all work is carried out exclusively by local artists.
Colorful murals depicting the natural resources, culture, and history of Lake County are featured on buildings around Clear Lake.
Violet Divine is a board member of LCRAI and a muralist. She and her husband Michael are co-owners of TenThousandVisions, where they sell their works of art. Both are responsible for many of the completed murals, but also for some that are still on the drawing board.
Divine paint the city
The Lakeport Community Center, 500 N. Main St., is one of those with outdoor artwork from the Divine. This one called “Interwoven” is a Native American theme and shows many aspects of local Pomo life.
Amazingly, both Divines are pretty much self-taught. She attended computer graphics and graphic design school for a few years before receiving a PhD in philosophy and becoming a college professor.
He said, “I never officially went to art school, but I took a few classes at a community college to brush up on some things I didn’t learn myself. Most of the time it was just trial and error. “
Together, the two have painted several murals in Lake County, as well as others across California, Mexico, Thailand, and New Zealand.
They have also created many large format pieces for concerts and festivals around the world, in densely populated places like Melbourne, Australia and remote locations like the Giza Plateau in Egypt.
“Only the Brave,” a tribute to the brave men and women who fought the fires that have ravaged large parts of Lake County since 2015, was posted on the sides of the Kelseyville Fire Protection District building at 4020 Main St. and the fire brigade Lakeport, 445 N. Main St.
The murals, a collaboration between designer Ben vanSteenbaugh and wall painter Jeanne Jesse, show firefighters with hoses at a distance with a fire-breathing dragon.
Another mural designed by vanSteenbaugh and painted by the Divines is located on 60 3rd Street near Library Park in Lakeport and depicts a Pan Am Clipper landing on Clear Lake in 1945. The mural is so realistic you almost expect the plane to land on land any minute.
There is a mural featuring a Native American theme on 5th and Main Streets in Lakeport. Designed and painted by the Divines, it shows many aspects of local Pomo life.
Murals are a different animal
Gloria De La Cruz was hired by the Lake County Redevelopment Agency in 2008 for their beautification work along the Highway 20 corridor.
Since then she has painted numerous murals on site, including “Clear Lake Sunset” at 290 N. Main St. in Lakeport, which was commissioned by the Lakeport Main Street Association. She also added her art to a wine cave in the Cache Creek Vineyards Tasting Room.
Ten years ago she opened the Catfish Coffeehouse in 14624 Lakeshore Dr. in Clearlake and said one of her all time favorite murals was one she did for the business.
The six panels of their “Wildlife” mural on the corner of 3rd Street and Main Street in Lakeport feature several eye-catching depictions of the area’s beautiful, feathered creatures.
Painting a mural is a big endeavor that usually starts with a few preliminary sketches to solidify the idea and decide how you want the picture to flow.
“Muraling is a very different animal from canvas painting,” said Violet Divine. “The scale requires very different skills because you, as an artist, are dwarfed by the image you make.”
In order to maintain the correct proportions, the design is first sketched onto the building. Depending on the size of the wall, a projector is sometimes used to get an outline of main shapes. If the wall is too big for the projector to work on more than two or three sections, the artist will snap the wall.
Local creatives stay busy
Robert Minuzzo began his art career selling artwork at the first Sausalito Art Festival and was later hired by the Hearst family to restore an exterior painting on the walls of a lodge in their private retreat near Mount Shasta.
While living in Napa, he helped direct a teenage wall project at a high school aimed at quitting smoking. A few years later, he was hired to create a 10 x 40 foot mural for a residential wall in St. Helena.
Minuzzo said his greatest artistic achievement was “my ability to make a living doing what I love and have sold over 350 works of art in 40 years”.