Cutting-edge arts

New augmented reality walking trail brings art to life in Near Southside Fort Worth

New augmented reality walking trail brings art to life in Fort Worth

Neighborhood Leap app
Follow the trail to learn more about local art. Photo by Taylor Staniforth
Neighborhood Leap app
The app is free to download. Photo courtesy of Neighborhood Leap
Neighborhood Leap app
The trail covers a mile in the South Main area. Photo by Taylor Staniforth
Neighborhood Leap app
Neighborhood Leap app
Neighborhood Leap app

For the first time, the tap of an app can tap into the art and creativity of Fort Worth's Near Southside. Neighborhood Leap, described as "an app-based augmented reality art walking trail," officially will debut in the South Main Village neighborhood, just south of downtown, on Thursday, June 30.

The cutting-edge initiative is spearheaded by Amphibian Stage theater company, in collaboration with Blue Zones Project Fort Worth, Near Southside Arts, Visit Fort Worth, and Texas Commission on the Arts, with creative muscle of local software development studio Devhouse Agency. 

According to a release, Neighborhood Leap merges existing murals by Fort Worth artists (such as Benito Huerta, Jay Wilkinson, and Kristen Sobel) with newly commissioned visuals, music, movement, and storytelling works to create an interactive experience. 

"The works were designed and digitally augmented to immerse the user in the next dimension of art," the release explains. "Existing murals are creatively altered, or blank walls come to life with new pieces from local artists like Fernando Rojas Cervantez and Alli Rogers Andreen."

Users who follow the trail will be led through 19 art stops throughout the neighborhood, including Art Tooth at SOMA and Benito Huerta’s Urban Still Life sculpture.

"The trail is designed to be enjoyed as an entire journey or piecemeal — mix and match activations to create a unique experience," the release says. "Meant to spark creativity and conversation, users are encouraged to enjoy the app repeatedly."

To get started, you'll first have to download the app, available on Android and Apple iPhones Generation 10 and newer. Organizers recommend using earphones or headphones to best hear the mix of narration and music alongside visual elements. Sidewalk markers and "You’ve Arrived!” stickers serve as visual guides.

The complete, self-guided walk takes about 30 minutes to complete, they say.

A full list of art works, artists, and collaborators is available here. Local art lovers will recognize names like Martha Peters, Allison Rogers, Daniel Banks, Lou Charle$, Armond Vance, and Grady Spencer; the trail also includes contributions of students from the Fort Worth's I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM & VPA.

"We wanted to do something to give back to our city by highlighting all the wonderful things our neighborhood offers," says Amphibian Stage founder and artistic director Kathleen Culebro in the release. "In just a 30-minute walk, you will encounter over 20 works of art, lovely parks, and countless independently owned shops and eateries, each one a treasure. We're in love with this area, and we're excited to give people a chance to fall in love, too."

Beyond being an artsy outing, it's also meant to be a healthy activity that gets individuals, groups, or families up and moving. While the South Main tour is available through the summer, it's possible this won't be the only neighborhood where it's offered.

"An environment that promotes moving naturally, downshifting through the exploration of art and creativity, and social interactions — it's all there within a one-mile loop in an area designed for all users," says Matt Dufrene, vice president of Blue Zones Project Fort Worth, in the release. "We are pleased to support Amphibian Stage in this endeavor and hope there may be an opportunity for expanding this concept to other areas of our community in the future."

An official launch event will take place after the heat of the day, 8-10 pm Thursday, June 30 at Amphibian Stage, 120 S. Main St. It will include a community open house, complete with free snow cones with proof of app download. 

Both the launch event and the experience are free to the public.