Barrio Soul

Jesus ‘Cimi’ Alvarado’s ‘Barrio Soul’ is one of the five murals featured in the upcoming exhibit ‘Expanded: Murals Enhanced with Augmented Reality.’

Making art accessible to people from all walks of life, murals stop passers-by in their tracks. Questions that often come to mind include, “Who did this mural?” and “What’s the message behind it?”

This Saturday, Aug. 12, many of those questions will be answered thanks to the exhibit, “Expanded: Murals Enhanced with Augmented Reality.”

Going down at Fab Lab El Paso, attendees will see the murals come to life with the help of the Augment El Paso app and a grant from the Museums and Cultural Affairs Department. Photos of five murals will be at the lab, where people can use smart phones or tablets to frame the image, tap the screen and watch the murals move. Some of the murals include sound, and all of them will feature pop-up screens with artist biographies. The app works at the mural sites as well.

“You’ll see the serpents in ‘Omecoatl – Twin Sepents’ breathing, pulsating and roaring when you tap on the screen,” Augment EP founder David Figueroa said about one of Gabriel Gaytan’s murals located at Lincoln Park.

Muralist Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado said he was excited to see that music was incorporated into the augmentation of his large piece, “Barrio Soul.” Adorning one side of a corner store at 523 S. Campbell Street and 4th Avenue, the piece plays homage to the late El Paso radio legend Steve Crosno as well as local bands of the ’50s-’70s like The Nite-Dreamers and The El Paso Drifters.

“You’ll be able to hear some of the songs each band used to play,” Alvarado said. “I would like to be there all the time to tell people about that mural, but with the Augment app, people can learn more about it on their own.”

Figueroa said each mural took at least one month to augment.

“There was so much content to work with, and we really wanted to do each mural justice,” Figueroa explained. His team behind the mural augmentations includes Robert Castaneda, Romi Adams, Gary Adams, John Estrada, Esteban Rubio and Roy Portillo.

Los Dos – Sister Cities

Saturday's "Expanded" exhibit will also feature the mural "Sister Cities/Ciudades Hermanas," which the artist duo Los Dos painted on Father Rahm Street. 

But despite the advanced software and countless hours it took to augment each mural, Figueroa said the end result made all the meticulous steps worth it.

“I feel this work is important because it gets the viewer’s imagination going, gets them to start thinking about new possibilities and reconnects them to their surroundings,” he said. “I also feel it’s adding to the uniqueness of El Paso, because this really isn’t being done anywhere else.”