Pop Culture

H-Town Is Immersed in Van Gogh

With the Immersive Van Gogh Experience, Houstonians can no longer say, "She doesn't even Van Gogh here."
With the Immersive Van Gogh Experience, Houstonians can no longer say, "She doesn't even Van Gogh here." Photo by Michael Brosilow
Houston's art space just got a little bit more interesting. The freshly launched Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit is the newest creative hub to open, adding to the city's already flourishing artscape. In the exhibit, guests witness a 360-degree experience that plops them right into the mind of the decorated painter. What's more, the building where it occupies promises to remain a staple for upcoming performances, exhibits and attractions for years to come.

More on the future of the building in a minute...first, the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit deserves attention for what it offers.

Housed in the newly constructed Lighthouse Artspace, (a 16,500-square-foot converted warehouse at 1314 Brittmoore Road), the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit (not to be confused with another exhibit of a similar name) is the marriage of three different artists' work. It’s the original artwork of Vincent Van Gogh, the dazzling projection show created by Massimiliano Siccardi, and a soundtrack that serves as the connective tissue for the entire experience arranged by Luca Longobardi.

Visually, Van Gogh's paintings melt and mold into one another in various vignettes that span approximately 35 minutes from start to finish. And, whodathunk that the sounds of George Frideric Handel, Édith Piaf and Radiohead's Thom Yorke would work so well together?

"This is a new way to consume art. For the last 100 years, the ways we have consumed museum art is to huddle around a painting or sculpture. Here, the art envelopes the consumer," said Vito Iaia, co-founder of Impact Museums.
click to enlarge Audiences can experience the swirling colors of Van Gogh's art in a new way at the exhibit. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL BROSILOW
Audiences can experience the swirling colors of Van Gogh's art in a new way at the exhibit.
Photo by Michael Brosilow
The total space is composed of only a few rooms, but the experience itself is an easy one to get lost in since every inch is utilized to the max. Part of that is the result of Rowan Doyle, who handled the design of the building and the aesthetic flow.

"Here in Houston, you’ll do some cool things," Iaia said. "Before you come in, you’ll see scenic elements specific to Texas, and we’ll have food and beverages with a Van Gogh theme. There will be an outdoor bar where people can hang out before or after the show. There’s also Texas sunflower selfie wall and a couple of other nice treats."

Upon entering the space, the corridor leading to the gallery is reminiscent of Rothko Chapel and flanked by more of Van Gogh's iconic art.

The crux of the experience takes place in the gallery, where audiences get whisked away with Van Gogh’s paintbrush in a swirl of color, brought to life with over 90,000,000 pixels of animation.

With approximately 100 state-of-the-art projectors illuminating over the exhibit space, visitors to the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit are encircled from head-to-toe in Van Gogh's brushstrokes and colors, including animated details from works such as Self Portrait with Felt Hat (1888), The Bedroom in Arles (1889), Irises (1889) and The Starry Night (1889).

The ticketed shows run on a loop, but Iaia says there is no hard in- or out-time. "Most people will watch the show once…but some spend over an hour," he mentioned.

The experience works in nearly any scenario, ranging from an individual wanting to take in the sights and sounds to a family looking for a weekend activity. The experience has become so popular that the exhibit has surpassed three million in tickets sold, which Iaia noted is more than Taylor Swift's sales. How's that for the enduring significance of fine art?

Words alone cannot sum up the experience, but a news clip from a sister exhibit in Chicago perhaps will provide a better idea of what to expect. To fully understand the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, one must attend before it is Van Gone. The website currently lists show dates through January 3, 2022.
As for the space itself, it is operated by Lighthouse Immersive and Impact Museums. The organization operates a portfolio of groundbreaking, immersive experiences built around our universal passions for art, entertainment and important social causes. The immersive studio develops original IP and licenses top tier IP to build unique, interactive experiences. Impact Museums connects with audiences emotionally through great storytelling around the topics they care about passionately.

Impact Museums invests in and partners with leading experiential producers to help them scale their experiences. It has plans for Lighthouse Artspace that will position it as a next-gen art, culture, and entertainment showcase that aims to cultivate community and creativity through large-scale events and exhibitions of all art forms.

"We have an incredible slate of content coming in 2022. The new slate will be something more than an artists-specific exhibit," Iaia hinted, but he remained tightlipped about what exactly that might entail. Looks like we'll have to keep our eyes peeled for what comes next to this exciting venture.

The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit is open 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays; 10 a.m. - 11 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 9 a.m. - 11 p.m. Saturdays; 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. on Sundays through January 3 at Lighthouse Artspace, 1314 Brittmoore Road. For tickets or updated hours, visit houstonvangogh.com. Tickets range $29.99 to $109.99.
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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd