Dr. George Belden Crane
Stained Glass, 19.5″ x 25.5″, plus included frame
Dr. George Belden Crane, 1853
George Belden Crane (1806-1898) was a native of New York. After receiving his medical degree in 1832, he moved toward the west and in 1853 he arrived in California. With his study of European viticulture and soil types and visits to Napa with John Patchett he concluded that St. Helena was the perfect place to plant grapes and he could make more money than being a doctor. George bought 300 acres west of Main Street, stretching from Sulphur Springs Road north to Sulphur Creek. He planted the first European grape vines in this area. George built a winery in 1860 where St. Helena High School is now (Vintage Hall). His home still stands, now owned by the Salvestrin family.
Louisiana native Whitney LeBlanc has been a teacher, writer, producer, set designer and award winning theatre director. He holds a Master’s Degree in Theatre Arts Production from the University of Iowa. He spent more than half of his fifty year professional career in Hollywood as a director of well known “sitcoms” and daytime dramas. He has four children and now lives in the Napa Valley with his wife. Whitney now spends his time writing novels and creating stained glass windows for churches.
He first learned stained glass when he was teaching theater at Antioch College in Ohio. There he met Bob Metcalf, who created religious windows for churches and taught him the rudimentary skills of stained glass. Stained glass was not yet his calling. His professional life was in theater production which manifested as stage design, directing and television production. He spent the next 25 years as a producer and director in Hollywood.
Yet when Whitney left Hollywood in 1995 it was almost by chance that he decided to take a class in stained glass from Cerritos College. He soon picked up where he had left off and was making simple ‘light catchers’ and lampshades because he admired Tiffany lamps.” Then, in 1996 he and his wife moved to the Napa Valley and joined the congregation of Grace Episcopal.
It was there that Father Mac approached him with the first stained glass project — to create a large window in the sacristy. It was a project that became a problem for LeBlanc because he felt it was beyond his capabilities. Through intense collaboration with a group from the church a kind of “message” from the stained glass image evolved. With the relentless encouragement of Father Mac and members of the church community not only was the window created but a new calling had manifested. Exactly how remains a mystery to him still.
Because of his experiences he prefers the translucent colored glass which he believes let through so much more light and in his view the world can be seen behind the design. His windows are brilliant shards of glass; each uniquely crafted, cut and colored, and then artistically assembled into a design. They are portraits that speak of spirit, of community and of inspiration.