A long-term effort by city resident and retired educator Nancy Reynolds to bring public art to downtown Fort Walton Beach is finally bearing fruit.
Reynolds, who taught in Okaloosa County Schools for 34 years, helped create the non-profit group Historic Murals of Fort Walton Beach about two years ago as a way to bring to the downtown district murals that highlight the area’s unique history and noteworthy residents.
Reynolds got the idea while visiting Christchurch, New Zealand and seeing the city’s extensive collection of public murals.
“We were just going to stay for lunch, but we ended up spending the entire day,” said Reynolds of the city. “And I said ‘We have to do this downtown.’”
And now that dream is becoming a reality with the group’s first mural project, going up on the back wall of the Suds-n-Cinema theater downtown.
Local artist Goldo Marty, who owns Art from the Heart Tattoos and Gallery on North Beal Parkway, recently started painting the mural on the back of the 2-story theater. The mural tells the story of movies using iconic images from cinema that could be instantly recognizable to passersby on Brooks Street.
A jowly Marlon Brando from The Godfather shares space with one of the characters from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Above that, Marilyn Monroe’s famous profile is nestled against a light-saber-wielding Yoda from Star Wars. Around them, yet to be painted, are hand sketches of scenes from Rocky, Jaws, Forrest Gump, Home Alone, and Back to the Future.
“He’s amazing,” said Reynolds of Marty. “He’s so talented, and he just said, ‘I’ll do it for free.’”
In addition to recruiting Marty, Reynolds secured permission from the Nabors family to paint the theater wall and obtained public and private funding from the City of Fort Walton Beach and longtime city resident Jim Tucker.
Reynolds said she’s hopeful that this will be the first of many more murals to come, and she is already working on another mural to commemorate three local sailors, 2-time Olympic medalists Randy Smyth (multi-hull) and Mike Gephardt (windsurfing), and 9-time national champion Carlton Tucker (multi-hull).
“We need to preserve that history,” said Reynolds “and what a better way to do that than pictorially.”
If you would like to help with the mural project, you can call or text Nancy Reynolds at 850-243-9331.