Len Starbeck: Artist & Adventurer​

I grew up in Northern California.  After high school I worked as a carpenter and rough necked in the Utah Oil Fields on many drilling and service rigs.  My brother, father, uncles and granddads were sailors, and I was compelled to join the Navy as well. I have been involved with medicine for about 45 years and taught (tactical medicine, 1st aid, CPR and dive medicine) for at least 30 years.

My bride and I bought a Park City timeshare about 37 years ago and are working on 38 years of marriage.  We settled in San Diego for some 25 years but never forgot our love of Park City.  We enjoy the year-round activities Park City has to offer, especially skiing and now hiking and biking.  This is a majestic and magical place and Swaner’s Preserve is the heart of Park City as far as we are concerned.  After some 35 plus years with the US Navy and government contracting in and out of San Diego and some 43 countries, we finally decided to move to Park City.

While nursing in Phoenix for a year I started making art with dried cactus and inlaying pieces with turquoise. Once I realized I could use polished abalone, I haven’t stopped. Creating art is thoroughly therapeutic and is endless. Nick a vet and nurse told me about a turquoise mine and took me there. You can see in the pictures we mined our own. This was 35 miles off the pavement, another 5 miles by mountain bike and a half a mile hike to the mine.  

Extracting Turquoise from Seam

In the last 8 years, I had been working as a surgical nurse overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Jordan, Ecuador and even in the South China Seas as a merchant marine medical officer. More recently got a position as an OR Nurse here at the great Park City Medical Center. Since then I have started travel nursing as an operating room nurse last year and plan another contract soon.

I have been diving for abalone for some 50 years and was excited to discover I could use the abalone shells for various art pieces. A few years ago, I collected more abalone shells combined than I had 50 years prior. Collecting them whole or broken with a 30-to-40-pound load and backpacking them up to my truck sometime three and four times a day. I have used a hammer and a 3,000 pound steam roller to crush abalone shells and polish them with handfuls of gravel in a cement mixer.

A several years ago, I built a wood shop / studio and am happy call myself an artist after retiring twice now. I do sell as a vendor in art shows when we can get approved for the competing art shows. I started re-purposing antiques, photography, making wooden ski coat racks and framing preserve flowers. I am available for custom projects. Call me if you have questions or want to sign up a group for you own art class. (858) 208-6505  lstarbeck@gmail.com

Artist at Large – Extracting turquise from seam in desert rock formation.
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