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Renowned Marine Painter, Curt Whiticar Will Be Featured At The Elliot Museum With An Opening Reception On Monday, February 12, 2024. Memories Of Curt’s 106 Year Life Bring Local History Alive!

Curt Whiticar‘s Marine art will be featured at The Elliot Museum with an Opening Reception On Monday, February 12, 2024.  Curt lived a colorful life on and off the canvas, celebrating his 106th birthday just before his passing.  His story and his paintings bring us a rich history of Stuart, FL.  The Rickie Report shares the details of the exhibit as well as his paintings. Curt’s paintings, book, and notecards will be part of the Elliot Museum offerings and Martin County Open Studio Tour which takes place on Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3, 2024. Mark your calendars!

 

 

 

 

825 NE Ocean Boulevard, Stuart, FL

 

http://hsmc-fl.com

772.225.1961

 

 

 

 

 

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2024  

5:30 – 7:30 pm

 

 

 

 

Curt Whiticar

 

 

 

THE  EARLY  YEARS

 

Born on February 13, 1911, in Fairton, New Jersey, Curt’s family spent the winters in Fairton while his dad worked on an oyster boat out from Bivalve about twelve miles southeast of the town.  During the summers, they moved to Fortescue, a remote fishing village on the Delaware Bay  where his dad had a charter fishing business.  They lived without running water or electricity on a little barge pulled up on the beach.

 

 

“Sailfishing off  Stuart” by Curt Whiticar

(Curt is in the boat in the background)

Curt was very active in the Stuart Sailfish Club (treasurer for many years) and designed the Sailfish pins and Sailfish Release pins for the club.  This picture was often used as publicity for the Sailfish club and the Whiticar Fleet.

 

 

 

Curt relays in his biography, ” Dad hated the job of oystering; it was cold and miserable on the freezing bay in the winter.  In 1917, a man in a charter fishing party told Dad about a place in Florida where he could catch about a thousand pounds of fish a day!  Of course, this was Stuart, and the man had been a guest at Bay Tree Lodge on Sewalls Point.  As a result, Dad decided to go south in October of that year.  On the way down, we were on a steamship and ran into a hurricane.  After arriving, Dad rented a small wooden cottage on Akron Avenue and acquired a 23 foot fishing boat with a one-cylinder engine and a top speed of seven miles an hour.  Dad was now a commercial fisherman in Stuart during the winter season and a charter fisherman in New Jersey in summer!

 

 

 

HE’S IN THE PAINTING BUSINESS !

 

 

“When I was about eleven or twelve years old, my father owned two charter boats which he used for sport fishing in New Jersey.  There were about 75 other charter boats at Fortescue.  The little village had no marine railway to haul boats from the water for repair and painting, so when the boats needed repainting, the owners would run them up on the beach at high tide, then repaint or repair when the tide was lower.  Most boat owners just painted over the names which were on the stern and bow of the boats. When the repainted hull was dry, they would repaint the letters.  They were not proficient at lettering and did not have proper brushes, so the result was usually pretty bad. I acquired a good red sable brush and repainted the lettering on Dad’s boats.  I did a pretty good job, especially by comparison, and soon all the boat captains paid me to reletter their boats.  Also, the hotel managers or owners hired me to paint their signs, and I put some scenes on them.  As a result, as a twelve year old boy, I was in business with painting”. 

 

 

Painting by Curt Whiticar

Foundering Norwester Rescue:  This painting shows boats in the wild seas that is a depiction of a rescue.  Curt and his mate, in his boat the Gulfstream, rescued 6 people, 3 others were rescued by 2 other boats and one man drowned.  He later salvaged the boat, rebuilt it and used it for many years.

 

 

 

“After I graduated from high school, I studied engineering at Bliss Electrical School in Washington, D.C.  I worked for Western Electric Company in New Jersey for a while, but the pay was poor, and I did not enjoy the work.  I joined my father and two brothers in the charter fishing business, and we became the “Whiticar Fleet.”  At one time, we had 7 boats chartering from our home on West Lake in Port Sewall.  For several years, we went back north to charter during the summer as there was very little summer tourist business here. In the winter of 1938-39, I met a young lady who had come to Florida as a governess for Mr. & Mrs. James Reardon.  On April 14, 1939, Elsa and I were married in my unfinished house on  Willoughby Creek and spent the first night of our honeymoon on North Lake in one of my Dad’s boats.  We were married for sixty-eight years”.

 

 

 

“In the winter of 1946, I was on the river with a charter fishing party.  We decided the inlet there was too rough and dangerous to navigate, so we headed south to try to go out into the ocean at West Palm Beach.  A 42 foot boat with ten people aboard tried to go out through the inlet and capsized.  I returned to the inlet, transferred my party to another boat, and went out into the churning waters.  My mate, Jim Foley, and I rescued six of the persons, my brother Jack rescued two persons with his boat, another boat captain, Earl Dare, rescued one person, and one man drowned.  The boat foundered and was eventually towed into Salerno Pocket.  It was put up for bid, and I was the high bidder at $3000.  I repaired the boat, rebuilt the engines, and made quite a few changes in order to get the boat documented for charter fishing.  The “Norwester” became one of the seven boats in our fleet”.

 

BUILDING A BUSINESS OF BUILDING BOATS

 

 

“In 1946, my brother wanted me to build a new boat for him.  Dad had a lot next to his house where  I could build the boat, but I needed a building.  Camp Murphy (now Jonathan Dickinson State Park) had been an Army camp during the war.  The US government auctioned off the buildings, and I bid $475 on the mess hall, $30 for an officers’ latrine, and $25 for another building.  The buildings had to be removed from the property within thirty days. We marked each piece and disassembled the entire building, reassembling it on our property.  It is still in use, having survived the big hurricane of 1949.  Without an organized crew of builders, I quit charter fishing entirely and concentrated on boat building. My brother-in-law, John Dragseth, joined me as vice-president, and since inception, we have built 63 boats at Whiticar Boat Works, Inc”.

 

 

 

Painting by Curt Whiticar

As his boats became well known for performing well in the rolling ocean waters , he decided to open a boat building and repair business. “Whiticar Boat Basin”, then “Whiticar Boat Works” was established in 1947. It has recently been sold.

 

The company built boats that became world famous among the power boating communities. His expertise in lettering the name of the boat in gold leaf on the stern was legendary.

 

 

Curt retired from the boatworks at the age of seventy-five in 1986 and the business stayed in the family.  Curt still had a workbench and locker there where he repaired  and worked and make picture frames.  “Since retiring, I have the time to do a lot more oil painting.  Of more than  950 paintings, all but 140 have been done since I retired.  I also make most of the frames for my pictures.  I like to purchase antique frames and refinish them; however, such frames are difficult to find, and the good ones are expensive.  I still find an occasional frame at the flea market when I go there on Sundays. Elsa and I have three children, and all live in the area.  We also have 8 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.   At the age of ninety-six, I enjoy playing golf three times a week as well as  oil painting”. 

 

 

THOUGHTS ON MY PAINTINGS

 

 

“None of my educational classes included art; however, through the years, I have sat in on a few local art classes.  Perhaps my foremost learning experience was my contact with Bean Backus, whom I knew quite well.  He was my mentor.  Before 1950, I had painted only about 25 – 30 works of art.  At that time, our home here in Port Sewall burned to the ground and destroyed all the paintings except about five or six.  After we rebuilt our present home on the same foundation, I did spend a little time painting; however, I was busy with designing and building boats until 1986.  Then, at the age of seventy-five, I retired and had the time to do more painting.  My favorite medium is oil, and I have always favored Florida landscape and seascape scenes.  However, I also paint quite a lot of local historical scenes as well as anything I feel that people would like hanging on their walls”.  

 

 

 

 

“The Billy Conpatchie’s Family 1910:  This shows a Seminole Indian Family in the village” by Curt Whiticar  

 

 

 

“Over the years, I have given many paintings to my family, a few to close friends, some to local charities for fund-raising, and some to the Historical Society and Stuart Heritage Museum.Some on loan to the Maritime and Yachting Museum and to the Chapman School.I have never made a serious effort to sell my paintings; however, I have sold some of them upon request.I have completed over 1800 paintings! In the early days, I liked to purchase antique frames and refinish them, if needed, for my paintings.However, by the time I retired from Whiticar Boat Works, Inc., antique frames were seldom available for purchase, so I make my own frames using various kinds of wood such as cypress, mahogany, ash, pecky cypress, wormy chestnut and other woods.I also make stretcher frames for the canvas for the paintings”.

 

 

 

 I moved to Stuart with my family in 1917 at the age of six. I was active in the community within several organizations, and especially in the Stuart Sailfish Club which was formed to attract tourists to Stuart.  As a conservation advocate, I promoted and designed the release pins as a means of protecting our sailfish from being caught and destroyed.  In addition, I rescued six people who were drowning in treacherous water off of the St. Lucie Inlet.  The fishing and boating industry drew my family here and I have seen many changes.  However, Martin County is still a wonderful place to be!!

 

 

 

 

ACL Railroad Station:  This is the old railroad station at Stuart in 1905 (originally Potsdam) by Curt Whiticar

Products shipped were mainly pineapples and fish. 

 

 

 

NATURE AND WILDLIFE

 

Curt’s love of nature is shown in his Florida inland scenes.  The beauty of the trees and rivers is reflected in a variety of colors and landscapes.  He also features a variety of animals, especially birds in his paintings.  Although he always lived near the ocean, he enjoyed traveling.  And, he read National Geographic Magazine and frequently used pictures from the magazine for ideas for his paintings.

 

 

 

Sunrise Sunset Painting by Curt Whiticar

 

 

 

WHITICAR WATERWAY TALES 

 

 

 At the age of 95, after being persuaded by local historian, Sandy Thurlow, Curt sat down to write out some of his experiences.  Seventy five handwritten pages later, he was finished with the future book “Whiticar Waterway Tales”.  He was convinced that no one except his three children and Sandy Thurlow would read it, and asked for 4 copies.  After about six months, the book had become a 100 page narrative book with illustrations and pictures.  Two thousand copies were printed, and about 200 copies are still available.  Contact Laura Kay to order a book.

 

 

 

 

 

FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT THIS EXHIBIT:

Email Laura Kay Whiticar Darvill fishlkd@hotmail.com

Or Call to make an appointment to visit the House With The Purple Shutters

772-834-6202

To See More of Curt Whiticar’s artwork:   www.curtwhiticar.com

 

 

FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT 

THE STUDIO TOUR:

https://martinartisansguild.org/mcost-details

 

 

 

 

For coverage of your events, to place an advertisement, or speak to Rickie about appearing in The Rickie Report, contact:

Rickie Leiter, Publisher

Rickie@therickiereport.com  561-537-0291

11676 SW River Crossing Place, Port St. Lucie, FL 34987

 

To read previous posts, click TheRickieReport.com and scroll down.