Local News

Surprise! New virtual reality mural appears in downtown Cary

Posted January 17, 2021 5:50 p.m. EST
Updated January 20, 2021 2:37 p.m. EST

— Locals have begun noticing a series of whimsical pop-up art displays appearing throughout Downtown Cary. The series, GLOW, aims to surprise and delight viewers when the artworks are unexpectedly discovered.

The public art displays are always different, but have a few things in common:

1. They always play with light and color – hence the name Glow.

2. They are never announced. They simply appear, and people begin to discover them.

Downtown Cary's series GLOW brings a surprise pop-up virtual reality wall to Academy Street.

"Roof tops, windows, open lawns and on the sides of buildings…around every corner is a possible discovery and surprise," the website explains.

The installations are temporary and have no corresponding event or forewarning. Viewers are meant to simply stumble upon these bright discoveries and be amazed – bringing a sense of wonder that is especially needed with so many people feeling stuck at home and disconnected.

Downtown Cary's series GLOW brings a surprise pop-up virtual reality wall to Academy Street.

Vivid virtual reality wall dances to music

This new display, called Unseen Nature, features an "animated journey into an energetic realm of flowers found in North Carolina."

Vivid and bright flowers and plants move along the wall, seeming to dance and vibe along to the music of an accompanying soundtrack, which can be accessed via QR code.

"This story invites you to take a moment and view the often overlooked yet boundless beauty of our surroundings," explains the Town of Cary website.

Downtown Cary's series GLOW brings a surprise pop-up virtual reality wall to Academy Street.

The virtually reality wall was created by Mike Cuales and Rhett Hissam. The soundtrack was created by Donovan Moran.

This new display can be seen at the corner of Chatham Street and Academy Street.

Chinese lanterns and giant glowing flowers

In November, the first pop-up appeared as a forest of giant glowing "Astro Botanicals" at the site of the old Cary library.

The botanicals were inflatable and lit-up the downtown. Like a true mystery, they came and went -- and some locals never even knew they were there.

That's part of the wonder: You have to discover them -- and you might miss them completely.

Downtown Cary's series GLOW brings a surprise pop-up virtual reality wall to Academy Street.

A few weeks later, giant elephants, tigers, eagles, red pandas and more appeared around downtown. With the news that the popular NC Chinese Lantern Festival had been canceled due to COVID precautions, the lanterns popped up in spots around downtown, bringing joy to many locals, who flooded the streets.

While the lanterns were not officially part of GLOW, they served the same purpose: A little light, wonder and mystery on those cold December nights.

With the recent unveiling of their plans to expand Downtown Park, and the magical walkable holiday wonderland that gained so much attention during Christmas, the Town of Cary has started gaining a reputation for surprise and delight.

More pop-up displays are planned for various locations around the downtown area over the next few months – so keep your eyes open!

Downtown Cary's series GLOW brings a surprise pop-up virtual reality wall to Academy Street.

Check out the virtually reality wall live on WRAL's Facebook at 6:30 p.m.

WRAL's Heather Leah gave an up-close look at the new virtually reality wall on Facebook Live, while also sharing some of the Town of Cary's plans for the expanded Downtown Park.

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