ROCKPORT – More than two years after Hurricane Harvey devastated Rockport, the town has made huge strides in rebuilding.

But some things are still missing, such as the famous Big Blue Crab sculpture that used to tower over the beach.

As residents and frequent vacationers have searched for memories of pre-storm Rockport, they’ve turned to the Rockport Gallery, the local art gallery that features coastal-inspired art. The gallery includes artists like Dave Beckham, who photographs scenes along the Texas coast, and Frances IIes, who paints images associated with the popular vacation spot, like the famous bait shops that dot the Rockport harbor.

Amy Oliver, who works at the gallery, said these works have taken on added significance for customers after the storm damaged or destroyed parts of the beloved community, like the bait shops.

“Men, grown men would come in and just start crying” when they looked at paintings of the bait shops after Harvey, Oliver said. “When they were kids, they remember coming with their grandfathers ... They rebuilt a lot (of the bait shops) since Harvey, but they’ll never look like they did when they were kids.”

Artist Garold Smith captured dozens of classic Rockport scenes before Harvey without realizing what he was preserving.

Smith, a retired architect and structural engineer, uses ink and watercolors to depict Rockport’s signature views, like shrimp boats out on the water, the Big Blue Crab sculpture and bait shops like Fleming’s Bait Stand and Mom’s Bait Shop.

“There’s nothing better than an old, run-down, beat-up bait house,” Smith said.

The gallery, which opened in 2014, is owned by Deborah Glenn. She said customers come to the store looking to preserve some of Rockport’s spirit.

“We have two types of customers,” Glenn said. “One that lives in Rockport and wants something of their hometown and the tourists who have been vacationing and want to take a part of Rockport home with them so when they’re sitting in their home or their office, they can look at the picture and say, ‘That’s where I went fishing or where the kids and I spent a Saturday.’ They want something they can look back at and say, ‘I just had a great time.’”

Ciara McCarthy covers local health issues for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at cmccarthy@vicad.com or at 580-6597 or on Twitter at @mccarthy_ciara.

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Health Reporter

Ciara McCarthy covers public health for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. She reports on insurance, the cost of health care, local hospitals, and more. Questions, tips, or ideas? Contact: cmccarthy@vicad.com or call 361-580-6597.

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