The Living Lands

5 x 25′ Moscaic Mural – The Ivy Building, Fort Myers, FL,  installed June 2024

The Living Lands

The mural is a glass mosaic custom fabricated and installed by Mosaicist, Inc out of Miami, FL.  More than 100,000 individual tiles in over 180 different colors were meticulously placed by hand to replicate the commissioned piece “The Living Lands” by David Acevedo. It is set to become the hallmark of the new multi-family development, The Ivy, located near First Street in downtown Fort Myers, Florida.

Zimmer Development Company’s decision to commission David Acevedo for the mural project underscores their commitment to enhancing the cultural and visual appeal of Fort Myers. The collaboration, which also includes the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency and the Fort Myers Public Art Committee, aims to create a public art piece that resonates with the community and visitors alike. Spencer Peterson, a Development Manager at Zimmer, expressed excitement about the partnership, highlighting the collective effort to bring Acevedo’s exceptional artwork to life in the form of a breathtaking mosaic mural.

The Living Lands Mosaic at the Ivy

by Tom Hall

Located at the busy corner of Fowler and First in the downtown Fort Myers River District, The Living Lands is Fort Myers first largescale mosaic. Installed by Zimmer Development Company of Wilmington, North Carolina at The Ivy, a 274-unit apartment complex being constructed on the site previously owned the United Methodist Church, the mosaic measures five feet tall by twenty-five feet in length.

The mosaic was fabricated by a company based in Wales based on a design provided by popular Fort Myers pop/expressionist artist David Acevedo. The colors chosen for the abstract background intentionally mimic the skies I witness every day as I drive home from a long day at work,” Acevedo remarks. “These colors reenergize and invigorate us all and I strive to remind everyone driving by the importance of our skies.”

“Additionally,” Acevedo adds, “there are some other symbols, which my work is characterized by, such as the ladder – which represents the connections we make in life; and the swirls or circles, which represent cycles in life, memories and life experiences. There is also a faint Royal Palm, referring to the nearby McGregor Boulevard – where I have my studio and gallery. Being an abstract-expressionistic piece, it has more elements which remain open to interpretation.”

While the concept behind the mural is brilliant and the workmanship exceptional, the sightline to the mosaic is marred by a pedestrian signal, one-way street sign and lamppost. Moreover, the mosaic’s size is insufficient in juxtaposition to the height and length of the apartment complex and the speed at which traffic is travelling as it comes across the Edison Bridge.

The Importance of Mangroves

When he got the commission, Acevedo, like so many people in Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties, was still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Acevedo knows the financial and emotional toll of hurricanes first-hand. He lost touch with his extended family back home for three long months following Hurricane Maria. And since moving to Fort Myers in 2000, he’s also weathered Charley, Wilma and Irma. So he wanted his mosaic at The Ivy to remind folks that we have a natural buffer to hurricane-generated storm surge – mangroves.

“I was just thinking of something that would serve as a protector in a sense, or symbolically, for the area, for all downtown, after what we had with Hurricane Ian,” Acevedo relates. “So, I thought of the mangrove as a natural protector of the land and its natural protection of the coast. I thought the mangrove would be the ideal symbol.”

In the U.S. alone, mangroves prevent $11.3 billion in property damage and protect 8,800 miles from flooding each year, with the greatest flood protection benefits occurring during tropical cyclones. According to the US Geological Survey, mangroves reduce surge heights at a rate of two to three feet per mile across the width of a mangrove forest.

“I’m not an expert by any means, but I heard many times that it’s basically what protects our coast and has all of these benefits to it.”

While The Living Lands mosaic is an ode to the mangroves that naturally protect our coastlines, it also acknowledges that mangroves are endangered. Unfortunately, 62% of the mangroves in Southwest Florida suffered canopy damage during Hurricane Irma. While mangroves on well-drained sites (83%) re-sprouted new leaves within one year after that storm, those on poorly drained inland sites experienced one of the largest mangrove diebacks on record (10,760 ha). No information is yet available on the damage suffered by Southwest Florida mangroves and mangrove forests as a result of Hurricane Ian. When damage from Ian is factored in, scientists fear that Southwest Florida’s mangrove population may have been pushed to the brink of collapse by the strong and sustained winds, storm surge, prolonged flooding, sedimentation and coastal erosion we have seen as a consequence of Hurricanes Irma and Ian.

Like the Edison light bulb, royal palm and pineapple, Acevedo hopes his mangrove will one day become distinctively associated with the sustainability of our coastal ecology and our resilience as a community.

Acevedo’s Connection to the River District

David Acevedo has played an important role in bringing art to the River District in the aftermath of the four-year Streetscape project that ended in 2008. Through his DAAS Co-op Gallery, the Union Artist Studios, Arts & Eats Café at the Alliance for the Arts and as an Art Walk co-founder in 2008, Acevedo has played an instrumental role in transforming downtown Fort Myers from an infrequently-visited business district that figuratively rolled up its sidewalks after 5 p.m. to a trendy art district with a thriving nighttime economy. Against this backdrop, he’s now thrilled to have a public art presence in the town he loves so dearly.

“I feel like a contributor to the beauty of our downtown, the River District, in a sense, because there’s … a … beautiful little corner of downtown with very vibrant colors, a mural that people can take selfies on and just say, hey, I was in Fort Myers. That makes me proud.”

More, it adds to the image that the City projects to its citizens and the outside world.

“You can tell the level of culture or the level of what’s really going on in the city, the progress of the city when you see beautifully made murals and mosaics and public art sculptures and things like that. I think it elevates the quality of the area. It brings beauty into the whole spectrum of what those surroundings are, and I honestly feel it’s incredibly necessary.”

Acevedo encourages other developers to take a page from Zimmer Development’s playbook.

“In my opinion, every developer should follow that same lead. Every developer, anybody who builds something that is going to be like a primary architectural landmark in our city, should bring in also art with it … something to give back to the City or the public and the people in the community, like a beautiful sculpture or painting or mural, whatever it is. Including art in a project is not only good citizenship, it’s good business.”

About Zimmer Development

Founded in 1989, Zimmer Development Company also has projects in Cape Coral and South Lee County.

About David Acevedo

David Acevedo is a pop artist who is known throughout Southwest Florida for his vibrant colors, rich textures and clever compositions. Some commentators have labeled him as an abstract expressionist, but David typically resists categorization.

“The artwork I produce has been mislabeled under a variety of styles, but I have found that descriptive labels push me to stay within the limits of a movement and that counteracts with my muses,” says David. “I am on a constant journey of experimentation as I search for individualism within my body of work.”

David’s recent body of work focuses on his roots, stemming from his upbringing in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, and his ever-present search for bits and pieces of an idealistic past. These elements mix with an impeccable palette of colors and textures, creating a fantastical scenery where imagination and reality find cohesiveness.

“I seek to create a fantasy landscape where my memories and history can live in peace,” says Acevedo in the Artist Statement for his solo show, Transcendental, at the Alliance for the Arts. “I try to learn from myself with every brushstroke and allow my mind to wander the state of subconsciousness that I fall into during my creative process.

Acevedo employs a wide variety of materials in aid of his compositions. “The materials I utilize to create my paintings are usually photographs, magazine cut-out, acrylic paints, gesso, inks, pencils, dry and oil pastels, oils, enamels, colored markers and pens, [which I apply] to cotton rag paper or stretched canvas. A particular painting … could have all of these mediums, or as little as one; it all depends on my vision at the moment and most importantly, my mood.”

Acevedo graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Visual Arts from the prestigious University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. He is the recipient of two City of Fort Myers Arts & Culture grants, been twice named as the featured artist for the Arts for ACT Fine Art Auction and Gala and been recognized by D’Latinos and Gulfshore Business as an individual who reflects and celebrates positive values and ethnic and racial diversity within our community.

As a mixed media and multidisciplinary artist, he has created hundreds of artworks and exhibited in numerous individual and group exhibitions in and outside the United States. David has been featured numerous times by the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, including his 2020 solo show, and is featured during June of 2024 in a solo show titled Transcendental in the main gallery of the Alliance for the Arts.

June 16, 2024.