Close to this time frame in 2012, the decommissioned Coast Guard Cutter,uniquely built with wooden decks and known as the USS Mohawk, was sunk in 90 feet of water approximately 30 miles off the enchanting island of Sanibel, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. Many divers affectionately call it the “Whale Shark Capital of North America” for the record number of uncharacteristic whale sharks that this artificial reef attracted in its very first week on the bottom of the ocean.
Now, one year later, another historic event is taking place centering on the USS Mohawk and contributing to its beauty. Over 75 divers, representatives from national scuba publications and local news media met on Friday evening, May 31, 2013 at Nervous Nellie’s on Fort Myers Beach known to locals as the ‘Crazy Waterfront Eatery.’ Besides participating in a bit of camaraderie, this was the perfect opportunity to meet the Austrian photographer that would be creating a temporary art gallery on the USS Mohawk on Saturday, June 1, 2013. The creator behind this novel idea is Andreas Franke who brought a team with him to install twelve incredible images on the decks of the sunken ship for avid art fans and inquisitive scuba divers. Through September 14, 2013, divers will receive the ability to get up close and personal with this outstanding art exhibition which is like none other. Each of these images holds a significant meaning to the USS Mohawk. The individual pieces of artwork depict the ship’s war image and they take us back in time to understand its complex history. This was the last remaining ship in the famous ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ and the warship made it through fourteen Nazi u-boat attacks. The images are approximately 2.5 x 3.5 feet encased in plexiglass with steel frames.
Franke is extremely inventive as he superimposed images of models in period clothing onto the original photos from the ship in present-day. That makes the exhibition easier to relate to. This is not the first time we are witness to the great works of art from Andreas Franke. He was also the mastermind behind another underwater exhibition on the USS Vandenberg, an enticing artificial reef off the coast of Key West. He also created an underwater gallery off the Barbados coast. This current cultural creativity makes it Franke’s third sinking world project. With visibility anywhere from 50 to 70 feet on a normal dive to examine the USS Mohawk, this advantage allows divers to enjoy the gallery clearly. With the abundance of marine life that stay close to this artificial reef on a regular basis, the photographs are sure to be investigated by curious fish and it will be interesting to see the variety of sea life that attach themselves to the artwork by September 14th.
Experienced divers from all over the world are very enthusiastic about diving this breathtaking artificial reef on a regular basis but this newest addition to the dive will surely attract record number of crowds in the next three and a half months.
Once the images are brought back up to the surface at the end of the exhibition, they will be placed in the Lee County Alliance for the Arts galleries in Fort Myers, Florida for viewing by more than just water enthusiasts. There the images will reside for viewing until Saturday, October 26, 2013.
Now is the time to make your way to the USS Mohawk to take part in a unique dive that you will not soon forget.