Highland Park Characters - Artist Clarence Tibado

From Polk State College's website Posted on Monday, August 10, 2015 by Polk Newsroom: 

Polk State Lake Wales Presents Gallery Exhibit “The Divine Command” Aug. 17- Oct. 31

It’s hard to say which is more interesting: the backstory or the brushstrokes of “The Divine Command.”

Lake Wales artist Clarence J. Tibado painted “The Divine Command” over the course of several years in the 1950s and early 1960s, but the story of the painting begins many years earlier, said his sister, Lorraine Duncan.

Tibado served in the Navy during World War II. It was during his service that he began seeing images of the painting in his mind. Day and night, the painting would come to him. It grew larger, reflecting new details and scenes. Tibado, Duncan said, believed God was telling him what to paint.

In the 1950s, having returned to Lake Wales, Tibado finally began painting the images in his mind, using a 7-foot by 10-foot piece of marine plywood as his canvas.

Painting of La Casa de Josefina done by Clarence Tibado during his residence at the castle.

Painting of La Casa de Josefina done by Clarence Tibado during his residence at the castle.

This is where the story gets even better. Josephine Yarnell, who lived in a well-known Lake Wales-area residence, La Casa de Josefina, was a longtime acquaintance of Tibado’s. She offered her three-car garage as his art studio. Tibado set up shop, even installing stadium seating so that members of the public could come and watch him work.

As the painting took shape, so did the relationship between Tibado and Yarnell. Eventually, they were married.

When it was finished, “The Divine Command” weighed approximately 200 pounds and depicted numerous scenes that, as Craig mentioned earlier, are difficult to put into words. In the bottom right, Jesus hangs on the cross above numerous small churches. A staircase made of books leads the eye upward to Tibado’s “perfect city,” where humanity would live in peace, Duncan said. At the top of the paining is a hand that represents the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Duncan’s Winter Haven home is full of her brother’s paintings. Every day, visitors to the Smithsonian enjoy pictures he painted during his military service. Meanwhile, “The Divine Command” has spent most of its life in storage.

Duncan is donating the painting to the College, where she hopes it will inspire students and residents alike.


Early Highland Parker - Wilbert John Austin

The Amoret Apartment Club was constructed in 1937 by L.S. Acuff costing a little over $40,000. It incorporated eight units, including two cottages and was originally finished with stucco and weatherboarding. There were 6 chimneys, 7 fireplaces, and electric heating in every unit.

The Chauncey Cottage at Amoret in 1939. Note the old wooden water tower in the background. The water tower was replaced in 1962 with the current metal one.

The Chauncey Cottage at Amoret in 1939. Note the old wooden water tower in the background. The water tower was replaced in 1962 with the current metal one.

In March 1937, a group of eight got together and decided to build an apartment. Wilbert Austin was one of the eight. He also was President of the Austin Construction Company, builders of industrial plants, etc. in the United States and throughout the world. Incidentally, he built a large city in Russia and also built all the buildings on Wake Island.
— Historical Record of Amoret Apartment Club
...we wanted to heat with electricity. The Florida Power Company said they could not do so with the result that Mr. Rogers (Henry B. Rogers) and Fl Power had lengthy correspondence, and in the end the Power Company agreed to furnish electricity for heat but insisted that Amoret pay for the transformers and an annual charge of $160.00 in addition to the cost of the current...We bought the transformers from the General Electric Company and also the heaters for the apartment.
— Historical Record of Amoret Apartment Club

AUSTIN, WILBERT JOHN (2 Nov. 1876-4 Dec. 1940), a prominent engineer and builder, was one of five children, born in Cleveland to Samuel and Sarah Gynn Austin. After receiving a B. S. degree in engineering from Case Institute of Applied Science in 1899, he spent a year of travel and graduate work before joining with his father to form the Samuel J. Austin & Son Co. in 1901. Wilbert persuaded his father to combine construction with his own design and engineering abilities in order to offer clients a full range of service for their entire projects. He was credited with originating the standard steel-fram factory building, forerunner of the prefabricated steel building. An aviation enthusiast, Austin developed a canopy door for airplane hangars which led to the company's leadership in the design and construction of airports and other air transport facilities. He succeeded his father as president of the AUSTIN CO. in 1924 and initiated an intensified program of engineering research at that time. Austin also was president of Advance Properties Co. and was a member of the first Board of Directors for the NATIONAL AIR RACES in 1929.

Austin married Ida Stewart 13 Sept. 1903, and they had 3 children Allan Stewart, Donald Gynn, and Margaret Louise (Mrs. Clarence Williams). He died in a commercial airline crash in Chicago and was buried in Cleveland's LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

See here for info on the book Building Utopia about the Austins' work on constructing the Russian City.