SOUTHWEST ART BY J. MCELROY

The Lighthouse Project

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The Lighthouse Project

Last January I embarked on a project that has special meaning for me. In the early 70's I was in the Coast Guard and was stationed at Light Station Escanaba on Lake Michigan. This was back when most lighthouses were still manned by the Coast Guard and many years before GPS Satellites. Besides search and rescue and maintenance of aids to navigation in the area, we provided logistic support for two off shore light houses, Minneapolis shoals and St. Martins Island light. Each week I would steer the CG 40300, a 40 foot Marine Life Boat, south from Escanaba 11 miles out to Minneapolis Shoals Light House with mail, food, and personnel and then head to the southeast, another 11 miles, past the long abandoned Poverty Island Lighthouse, to Saint Martins Island Lighthouse. I was a young kid from Colorado, so these lighthouses which I became up close and personal with was something I considered pretty special that many people didn't have an opportunity to experience.

Most everyone loves lighthouses, they are iconic images of the American past and present and represent beacons of hope and direction. My original goal was to produce 50 paintings of these beautiful structures in one year. So far, I have painted 18, well on my way to completing that goal plus more. I recently received a small grant from the Durango Arts Center to help cover the costs of canvas and paint, which I really appreciate. So far, this has been a very fun project as well as educational as I research reference photos and a little bit of the history of each one of these beautiful and romantic buildings which have graced our waterways for hundreds of years.

I hope that some of you will follow me as this year progresses and the collection of Lighthouse Paintings grows. Please feel free to contact me with any suggestions or questions. Thanks!