FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Chris Primeau’s family has owned property on Fort Myers Beach for generations. After Hurricane Ian, his only property left standing was Norm’s elevator shaft in Times Square.
Five months later, he came up with an idea to give it a makeover as the Town began to rebuild.
Primeau hired two local artists, Lacy McClary and Summer DeSalvo, to paint murals on each of the four sides of the elevator shaft, which isn’t currently in use. He wanted them to include iconic images of Fort Myers Beach before and after the storm.
McClary said, “I think this is a landmark and a beacon of hope for Fort Myers Beach.”
On one side, she chose to paint a seahorse, which represents good luck to sailors.
“They have the ability to see forward, sideways, and backwards, and we all know what we went through last year. We all know what we are still going through right now, and there’s a bright future ahead,” McClary added.
The mural also shows shrimp boats, sea turtles, sailboats, the pier and a sunset to capture the beauty of the island over the years.
Summer DeSalvo worked on the two sides that include the shrimp boats and sea turtles. She said the turtles swimming into the ocean symbolize the people who passed away from the storm.
The bright beachy colors on all four walls symbolize Estero Island’s rebirth.
“A rebirth of the island. A rebirth of the people here,” DeSalvo said.
She said it’s an indescribable feeling to share her art with the locals.
“I’ve been able to talk with the people and the locals and [see] them getting emotional over it and that’s just super rewarding.”
Martha Antonelli lives in Fort Myers and drove with friends to the island to see the mural’s progress.
“I hope they never remove it. It’s almost a symbol,” she said. “It feels like there is hope at the end of tunnel because we’ve been through a lot of disaster here.”
They plan to finish the mural before the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ian on September 28.