Underwater Art Gallery to Debut Off Southwest Florida Coast

The USS Mohawk, a 165-foot World War II warship and artificial reef, has been transformed into an underwater art gallery off of Sanibel Island.

Photographer Andreas Franke of Austria is leading a team 28 nautical miles off the coast of Sanibel Island, near Fort Myers, to install 12 images that will become a gallery within the ship’s inner spaces and remain on display through September 14.

For this project, Franke researched the history of the Mohawk, which launched 14 attacks against German U-boats and rescued 300 torpedoed ship survivors. Based on his research, he will envision the life of sailors past aboard the Mohawk – their daily lives and dreams of home – and will superimpose images of models in period clothing onto original photography. Each image measures roughly 2.5 feet by 3.5 feet and will be encased in steel-framed Plexiglas. During their time at sea, the photos will evolve with accumulation of marine life, which will give them a seaworthy patina and life of their own.

For divers, the artwork will come into view. In the clear waters, divers will enjoy 50f feet to 70 feet of visibility, perfect for viewing the images.

At the end of their underwater exhibition, “The Sinking World” images will rise to the surface for display at the Lee County Alliance for the Arts galleries in Fort Myers on October 4, which marks the opening night and cocktail reception. The images will remain on display until October 26.