The Art of Jean Groberg

"Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it you can."

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It was easy to see the top of this windmill as it was just a couple dozen yards from the road and almost the same level as the highway overpass in Redwood City, California.

The 3,000-gallon tank at the top had been in use since 1920 and was filled with water at the time of this drawing in 1977. The low structure, hugging the ground to the right of the building, housed an electric pump which took over the function of the old windmill. The old fellow who lived in the main cottage told me of the time the tank was once overfilled and caused the structure to tilt a bit because the ground beneath it was not stable. After that, they were careful to watch the water level in the tank.

He had spent a lifetime in the Merchant Marine, which explained the port and starboard running lights, anchors, chains and helmsman's steering wheel nailed to the tankhouse exterior wall. There was more maritime memorabilia scattered about the yard. Somewhere in his journeys he had collected a hula girl made from two coconut shells. It was tattered and covered with soot and dangled, forlornly frayed, from the clothesline pole.

I made three trips to draw at this location. By then I had learned that he shared the house with an unsmiling man who I believe was his aging brother. Sharing a house didn't mean they had to be on speaking terms. I noticed that one fellow used only the front door and the other man used the back door. I never heard them exchange a word, even if they were out in the small yard at the same time. Perhaps I just happened to be there on days when they were not communicating, or maybe by the time they reached that age they had nothing new to say to each other.

In the early 1990's, the tankhouse was hauled to a piece of land adjoining a grammar school where it was reassembled. In the year 2000-2001 it was hoisted by a 50-foot crane onto a flatbed truck and hauled away in the early morning hours to be restored and have a place of honor in a public park. It is a well-traveled tankhouse.

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