The Post Office wall in Matlacha has been "Leomatized."
Leoma Lovegrove, a well known Matlacha artist, recently painted a mural entitled "Catch of Matlacha" on the east wall (the wall facing incoming island traffic) on the Post Office building.
Lovegrove, a Chicago native and graduate of the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, started the mural Friday, Aug. 23, by sketching the outline. Worked continued through Saturday and Sunday.
The mural was scheduled to be finished and signed on Monday morning. However heavy rains over the weekend set the signing back until Thursday.
Lovegrove, known worldwide for her impressionist paintings and colorful artistic depictions of flora and fauna, decided to do the mural to replace the artwork that was there.
"The existing art simply did not reflect Matlacha," Lovegrove said. "Donna Loibl owns the building and when we established the Matlacha Chamber of Commerce, Donna was part of the original think-tank. I suggested to Donna that I would really like to paint the wall I won't charge for it but we need something that says 'Matlacha.'
"Leoma approached us to do the mural on the wall as a tribute to Matlacha and Pine Island," Loibl said. "We feel honored that she wanted our building and thus we donated the wall for the project."
The project was started about a year ago when the old artwork was primed over.
"Then I just couldn't get to it," Lovegrove said. "This year I scheduled some time so we could have it done before the season started."
Lovegrove's sub-tropical influences inspires her art. She has been instrumental in encouraging tourism working in conjunction with the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel.
"This mural will be the welcome sign for tourists coming to Matlacha," Lovegrove said. "The inspiration was to create an artwork that represented Matlacha but also to bring awareness to what's happening to our fish and wildlife. The situation with the Ceitus Barrier, the contamination by fertilizers is something people need to be aware of."
Loibl said, "The rafters inside the Post Office building came from the original bridge. Bruce Scott incorporated them into the construction of the building around 1970. Once the mural is completed the building will have bridge artifacts both inside and outside the building. This mural helps preserve some of the island's history in a unique form of art for everyone.
"The Edison-Ford Museum over in Fort Myers has sponsored the paint," Lovegrove said. "I am going to include a mile-marker in the mural for them. I hope in time we can put together a boat trip from the Ford-Edison Museum to here. Once the mural is complete solar lighting will be added to illuminate the artwork at night."
"My art, and especially this piece, is about making people feel good about Matlacha. I love this little Island. It's also about making people feel good in general," Lovegrove said. "I hope people love this work as much as I do."