In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian's destructive visit, Sanibel's community celebrated the reopening of a local business. Rachel Pierce's Art Gallery, which had been devastated by the hurricane, held its grand reopening ceremony at the corner of Periwinkle and Palm Street.
Rachel Pierce's Art Gallery had initially opened its doors just ten months before the hurricane struck, only to be halted abruptly in its tracks.
"All the windows blew out, we had about six feet of water, and all the windows were destroyed," shared Rachel Pierce, the artist behind the gallery.
The adversity of the hurricane managed to bring the Sanibel community together.
Pierce explained, "We were all really bonded after the storm, we were all in each other's houses mucking out each other's houses and businesses, and sharing bikes and golf carts."
Pierce tells us that the storm not only influenced her art, but what the visitors purchase as well. She began to paint more of the Sanibel Lighthouse, which became even more meaningful after the storm.
"It became our beacon of hope, here it is like all of us, entirely representational, battered, bruised, still standing with the missing leg. That kind of was all of us, we were all kind of beat up a little bit," Pierce stated.
The Sanibel Island & Captiva Island Chamber of Commerce reports that approximately a hundred businesses have reopened on the island since Hurricane Ian. The grand reopening of Rachel Pierce's Art Gallery is a welcome addition to the island's economic revival.
John Lai, President & CEO of SANCAP Chamber of Commerce, expressed his delight, stating, "As we start seeing hotels come back and residents return, having establishments like this for them to be a part of means everything to our community."
Customers praised the nautical themes and sea creatures that adorn the gallery's walls, explaining how they bring joy and a sense of connection to the island's natural beauty.
"When you look at it, you get happy, it makes you feel good," said Walter Kresse, as he admired a canvas painting of three sea turtles.
Mary Meyer, an art gallery assistant, described Rachel Pierce's art as "sea life in motion," with colors that make you feel as if you can see the sea life moving.
To witness this moving art for yourself and explore other reopened businesses on the island, visit the SANCAP Chamber of Commerce's website for an interactive map of open island businesses.