Our ARTour Clearwater

Exploring Clearwater's Murals in a New Way

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Before heading to Colombia for our summer holiday, my kids and I managed to squeeze in a visit to ARTours Clearwater, a journey through downtown Clearwater’s murals with augmented reality.

William viewing Comunidad by Camilo Nunez and Florencia Duran via the ARTours app

As it was a sweltering hot afternoon and we would be walking quite a bit, we decided to wait at the Clearwater Library until it cooled off. There we marveled at the progress of Imagine Clearwater from the window, read some books and played games.

When we were ready to begin our technology-dependent tour, the tech gods were not with me. My phone battery ran dangerously low to non-responsive. Luckily I had a backup plan. We connected to the WiFi at the library and downloaded the ARTtour app on an iPad (it’s also available for Android).

Comunidad by Camilo Nunez and Florencia Duran

Our first mural on the ARTours was Comunidad by artists Camilo Nunez and Florencia Duran. You really have to be alert when viewing these murals because they are so close to streets and parking lots, so the kids definitely practiced looking out for each other.

The mural itself was massive and depicted women holding hands forming a network. William took the lead in holding up the iPad to the mural. We saw suns or yellow hotspots but didn’t see any effects. We walked on a little bit disappointed.

After A While by MJ Lino-Lawyer and Joshua Lawyer

The second mural we saw was After a While by artists MJ Lino-Lawyer and Joshua Lawyer. These nationally-recognized muralists are known for creating murals that depict multicultural scenes with women and their animal companions. This was the kids’ favorite.

They crossed the Pinellas Trail and you could really appreciate the size of the mural when they stood in front of it. They even had fun running the entire length of the mural. Again when we used the iPad for augmented reality all we could see were suns.

After a quick bite to eat we went a little further and viewed 100 Years before Jcole by Illsol muralist duo Tony Krol and Michelle Sawyer inspired by the history of the West Central Florida region.

100 Years before Jcole by Illsol

The ARTours app describes how the Orange Belt Railway founded in 1885 cut through the region’s citrus groves the same year the modern bicycle design was placed into production. This mural is inspired by J. Cole’s song “1985” which touches on the theme of how things change while still being rooted in elements of history. Again AR delivered sunspots.

I was a little bit confused. Why only suns? Weren’t we supposed to be viewing augmented reality? I expected the murals to “come to life.”

100 Years before Jcole by Illsol – iPad view of ARTours app

It is only in writing this article that I find that you have to click the yellow hotspots to activate the augmented reality experience. I should have read the “Help” section of the app while we were there. How silly of me to expect something to happen instantly. Now I am determined to return for the full AR experience and include the fourth mural – Ikebana by DAAS, a Florida artist now based in Japan.

Overall this afternoon walk reminded me that even if the technology doesn’t work the way it is supposed to – or in my case doesn’t work the way you think it ought to – you can enjoy the art regardless.

The children enjoyed the treasure hunt experience. They admired art that wasn’t part of the ARTour – lovely murals of birds by Roger Bansemer on the outside of a parking lot. Four sections each had three birds and my kids posed in front of them all.

Birds, by Roger Bansemer

So my advice to those with children about to experience ARTours Clearwater – make sure to charge your battery, make sure to download the app, take plenty of water, be vigilant, be patient. . . and click the suns.


You can find an interactive map here of
downtown Clearwater’s
murals and public
art including works by Cecilia Lueza,

Don Gialanella and students from
Pinellas County Center for the Arts.


Originally published in the Bahia-Studios blog


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