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Art Committee expanding Otocast app

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Art professionals and urban planners have identified nearly four dozen benefits that flow from the presence of public artworks in outdoor spaces. However, these advantages can only be maximized to the extent that the public fully appreciates the stories they tell. And it is exactly for this reason that the City of Fort Myers has installed a free phone app that informs local residents, vacationers and other visitors about the murals, sculpture and other art installations they encounter as they work, shop, dine and walk around downtown Fort Myers and parks located in other regions within our city limits.

The app is called Otocast, and if you haven’t used it yet, then pull out your smartphone and go to your app store right now. When you land there, type in Otocast in the search bar and then hit download. It’s free!

The app works with geo-mapping, which means that when you tap on the green Otocast icon, the app will automatically call up the Fort Myers guide. When it does, tap on the guide and you’ll see an aerial map of the River District that features a number of green pins. Those pins signify the location of some of the public artworks that are interspersed throughout the downtown Fort Myers River District.

More will be coming in the days and months that lie ahead.

Next, notice the banner that runs along the bottom of your screen It contains thumbnail photographs of the particular artworks identified by those green pins. As an exercise, tap on the fifth photo. It’s of the Tootie McGregor Fountain that’s located in the parking lot of the Fort Myers Country Club on McGregor Boulevard outside the Edison Restaurant.

The first item you’ll see is a short description of the artwork. After you read that, look at the top of your phone. Tap on “PHOTOS,” and swipe left to see different views and close-ups of the fountain. The second image is an historical photo of how the fountain looked when it was originally installed in an intersection known as Five Points (which was where Cleveland Avenue, Anderson Avenue (now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard), McGregor Boulevard, Main and Carson Streets).

Now tap on the “GET HERE” button. The next screen that appears will not only give you the artwork’s street address, but directions on how to get there from wherever you may be. It’s this feature that enables you and others to construct your own self-guided walking and driving tours of our local public art collection.

But really, when you’re thinking about a walking or driving tour, wouldn’t you rather a live tour guide than just reading a summary or short descriptive of the artworks you’re visiting. Well, Otocast has you covered. Go back to the previous screen. See that arrow pointing to your right surrounded by a white circle at the bottom of screen? Go ahead and tap on that and you’ll hear an audio that gives you the inside story about the piece by Jared Beck, who not only serves as Director of the River District Alliance, but as a previous Chair of the Fort Myers Public Art Committee, played an instrumental role in having the City subscribe to the Otocast mobile app service.

Wherever possible, we’ve asked the artists who’ve made a public artwork to provided the Otocast audio. But where, as with the Tootie McGregor Fountain, that hasn’t been possible because the artist is either no longer alive or is unknown, we’ve tapped people in the know like Jared Beck to give you the inside scoop about the artistic landmarks that dot our local landscape. In every instance, the stories are so interesting and so compelling that you’ll be inspired to share them with your family and friends. And if you’re inclined to put together a tour for yourself or a group of your family, friends or out-of-town visitors, it’s like having a host of expert, in-the-know tour guides, rather than just one. (Plus, you don’t have to tip them when the tour’s over!)

July 24, 2019.

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