The City of Ocala is preparing to showcase a new interactive mural in the downtown area.
Ocala native Drake Arnold, a nationally recognized artist, is painting the new mural on the exterior wall of the Ocala Citizen Service Center at 201 SE Third Street. The latest project commissioned by the city’s Cultural Arts and Sciences Division is designed to enhance the city’s cultural scene. The mural was approved by the City Council in September 2019 as part of the 2020 fiscal year budget.
The concept for the new mural is based on Michael Faraday, a pioneer of electromagnetism and electrochemistry, and will feature augmented reality.
“Faraday was a self-taught scientist and became one of the most influential thinkers in history, so much so that Albert Einstein kept a picture of Faraday on the wall of his study,” Arnold said. “This geometric, pattern-based artwork is meant to be an abstract representation of our interconnectivity in the modern world, thanks in part to the electric and utility companies that power our telecommunication devices.”
Arnold started the project this past Monday and will take several weeks to complete the mural, contingent upon weather conditions.
As a companion to the mural, he created an augmented reality app for his artwork. The app uses image recognition software to recognize his paintings, then overlays custom 3D animation to match each piece of artwork. As the viewer walks around and looks at the artwork from different angles, corresponding 3D animation will play interactively from the same viewing angle through their cell phone or tablet.
The Citizen Service Center building provides a backdrop to the newly opened OTRAK, a connector between the Downtown, Midtown and Tuscawilla Art Park, and will provide an artistic element to residents utilizing this multimodal parkway.
“Drake’s ongoing connections with the Ocala art scene, including being a resident at the newly opened Magnolia Art Xchange, member of the Marion Cultural Alliance, and work on previous projects within the community were a true asset in working on this type of project,” said Laura Walker, head of the Cultural Arts and Sciences Division. “His work with augmented reality on this scale of a canvas worked well with the location. We look forward to adding this innovative piece to our continually growing public art collection.”
As an artist, Arnold works in both traditional and digital media. He uses acrylic and aerosol for his work when painting on canvas or wall surfaces. His digital projects include creating animations and interactive design work for such applications as projection mapping, 3D printing and virtual reality. His work can be described as containing elements of psychedelia, fantasy, nature, surrealism and classical inspiration.
The City of Ocala offers many visual and performing art opportunities in various spaces. Public art is complimentary and is intended for everyone to enjoy. Detailed information about current programming and future projects can be found at www.ocalafl.org/culturalarts. Self-guided public art tours are available at Ocala.oncell.com.