(Above) Jon Jensen (center) presented the Clear Lake Fire Department with an original watercolor he commissioned artist Fred Ochi to create of Clear Lake’s Ahrens Fox Fire Engine. Pictured with Jensen are (L-R) Jim Finstad, Aaron Ruggles, Ben Hunt, Doug Myers, Mike Keefe, Tucker Finstad, Tom Hartwig, Brycen and Reid Hartwig. -Reporter photo by Chris Barragy.
by Marianne Gasaway
A one-of-a-kind painting of Clear Lake’s iconic 1924 Arends Fox Pumper Engine is the latest addition to the Clear Lake Fire Museum.
An original watercolor created by acclaimed artist Fred Ochi was presented to Clear Lake Fire Department leaders this summer by Jon Jensen, son of the late Joe Jensen, a longtime member of the CLFD.
“Jon contacted the department through its Facebook page and offered the painting. He was going through some of his things and didn’t know what to do with it,” explained CLFD Assistant Chief Mike Keefe. “We didn’t hesitate to say yes.”
When Joe Jensen passed away in 1989 the Arends Fox was used to transport his casket to the cemetery. Upon its return, the vehicle was parked in front of the Clear Lake Fire Museum and Jon snapped a photo of the snow covered Fox. He was living in Idaho Falls, Idaho at the time and decided to reach out to Ochi, who was also a resident of the state. Ochi was commissioned to turn the photo, minus the fire museum in the background, into a watercolor.
The result is captivating.
The technique of Ochi’s works is described as a unique product of his own development from the time he studied calligraphy in Iwakuni, Japan and fine art at the California College of Arts and Crafts. He was a charter member and former president of the Idaho Falls Art Guild and Idaho Art Association. His work has been shown in all of the western states, as well as galleries outside of the west. He operated the Fred Ochi Art Gallery in Idaho Falls until his death in 2007 at the age of 93.
Ochi was best known for his paintings of Idaho’s red barns, but his painting of Clear Lake’s red fire truck is equally intriguing. Contrasting the fire engine red is the white snow in the treads of the tires and the crisp blue sky sets off the scene.
The 1924 Ahrens-Fox Pumper Engine was considered the “Rolls-Royce” of fire engines and was a major firefighter used in the community from 1925 until the 1975 Central School fire.
“This is quite a piece to add to our collection at the museum,” said Keefe. “It’s Clear Lake history,