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Enter another dimension with augmented reality art walk near Southside Fort Worth

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - A Fort Worth neighborhood is taking public art to a new dimension with an augmented reality art walk.

It's not hard to spot all the vibrant colors and large-scale murals in South Main, but there's much more than what meets the eye.

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"It's something you wouldn't expect to stumble upon," said artist Fernando Rojas.

Using an app on your phone called Neighborhood Leap, existing artworks come to life or completely virtual pieces suddenly appear.

All you have to do is follow the arrows, stop at the markers that tell you where to stand, and line up the shot.

"Just in the 30-minute walk that you take here, which is a tiny little portion of the Near Southside, you're going to see 20 different things," said Kathleen Culebro, artistic director of Amphibian Stage.

Culebro saw how the shops and restaurants in the neighborhood were struggling during the pandemic, and she wanted to find a way to bring people to the area for a unique, outdoor experience.

"How often do we walk through our city, not knowing who or what is around us?" she said.

This art walk gives people the change to discover new places and engage with their surroundings.

"I've never seen anything done like this here in Fort Worth, so I think we're being pioneers in a way about virtual reality," said Rojas, who designed a virtual piece for the tour. "Having something open for the community, open for everyone to experience, is a great way to start a new art movement."

The goal is for this to be a never-ending project. When new artwork goes up in the neighborhood, it could be added to the tour, so the art walk is constantly changing.

"My biggest hope for this experience is for artists to get the notice that they deserve, for the businesses in the area to get new clientele that didn't know we were here, and for people to get moving, to get active, to be outside, to be interacting with each other in a really joyful way and to think about our surroundings," Culebro said.

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The project is made possible by collaborations with Blue Zones Project Fort Worth, Near Southside Arts, Visit Fort Worth, and Texas Commission on the Arts. As a new addition, local software development studio DEVHOUSE Agency brought the foundational work of The Cultural Assembly to life.

How to Prepare: 

•             The app is available for download on Android and Apple iPhones Generation 10 and newer. 

•             Earphones or headphones will ensure the best experience – the walk includes a dynamic mix of narration and music alongside visual elements. 

•             Keep an eye out for sidewalk markers; follow the arrows until you find a "You've Arrived!" sticker." 

•             Listen to the narration and let it guide you on your walk!

•             Remember the heat! The walk takes approximately 30-minutes to complete; stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun. 

•             For an optimal experience, visitors are encouraged to use the app in the evening hours or on overcast days – the hot Texas sun causes a glare on the phone, making it difficult to fully enjoy the art. 

•             Find full list of participating artists and collaborators here.

There is an official launch party for the app Thursday night at Amphibian Stage from 8-10 p.m. It's open to the public. If you show you've downloaded the app, you get a free snow cone.

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