Today, I traveled to the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in Charlotte, North Carolina with my friends Nikki and Kandy. We set off from Wytheville, VA, where Kandy lives and about halfway between where Nikki and I live, early in the morning, to reach Charlotte for our 11 a.m. appointment time, arriving about 30 minutes early.
The exhibit was set up in an old ammunition factory/warehouse type building. The outside was decorated with sunflowers, of course, but also featured numerous picnic tables on either side of the building, painted by various artisans from around the country to depict their interpretations of some of Van Gogh’s works. Each table featured a brief write-up about each artist, and it was really interesting to read about these artists of all ages from all over the country who had been selected to render their interpretations of the Master’s works.
We didn’t pay for the expensive tour with the fancy sunflower-emblazoned cushions to sit on. We just went for the plain-Jane regular admission. Which, as it turned out, was fine. There was an opening sequence of screens that told a brief story of Van Gogh and his work. Then we could walk into a more open space with various sunflowers created from sundry materials, which were basically being used as a staging area for photo opportunities. An old Ford painted with sunflowers carried the theme further, tying the current exhibit to the original purpose of the warehouse in some fashion. I didn’t get the whole gist of it, and admittedly didn’t read the signage that carefully… Outside the main Exhibit Hall were located the gift shop (where nothing was cheap), and a little snack bar/cafeteria that we didn’t even bother looking at after seeing the prices for the gift shop – although, yes, of course, each of us did make some purchases in the gift shop; it’s an art exhibit – you have to, right?!?
The main Exhibit Hall was a large open room with walls placed around the outside parameters, and projectors casting about a 30-minute multi-media presentation onto the panels, depicting various pieces of Van Gogh’s art, morphing into other pieces, with lovely music corresponding to the images. It really was quite spectacular to witness, especially with so many other people in a socially-distanced space. (Masks were not required.) Most people chose to sit on chairs or small benches placed strategically throughout the room for our viewing pleasure. We sat near the back entrance and monitored two or three nearby “walls,” throughout the presentation. The colors were explosive. The way the artwork morphed from one masterpiece into the next was divine! Of course, my favorite part was Starry Night, my favorite piece by Van Gogh. But I was also intrigued by his work with skeletons and cigarettes! That seemed so “Grateful Dead” to me, not Van Gogh! So I learned more about him while we were there.
The only thing I would change about the exhibit would be to make it longer. It was a long way to drive for just a 30-minute presentation or so. But I love his work, so of course it stands to reason that I would naturally want more of it. The whole experience was truly lovely and made me eager to read more about the man and his life and work after coming home. So, yes, I would definitely deem that a successful adventure. And the best part was sharing it in the company of great friends! If you get a chance to check it out, you should definitely do so. Maybe you can find something else to do in the Charlotte area, while you’re there – but we found that it’s pretty dead on a Tuesday afternoon. Going on a weekend probably allows for more extracurricular activities, we decided. All in all, a pleasurable experience that I do highly recommend to others intrigued with Van Gogh and his art/life.