Beyond Van Gogh: The immersive experience

For a while, I have heard about this exhibition traveling in the US and I really wanted to go. I saw they had LA on their list and I thought about driving up to see it. But when I found out that it was coming directly to San Diego, I knew I was 100% going. I have always admired Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork, especially The Starry Night and Cafe Terrace at Night. I was fortunate enough to see some of his pieces in person at the National Gallery in London, as well as at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

So I asked my girls if they would like to join me on this quest and they all said yes! So we booked our tickets and waited for the day to come. The ticket prices varied depending on the day of the event and we decided to go on a weekday evening. The tickets were $36.99 per person for the off-peak days, plus a $6 ticketing fee. On the day of the event, we drove separate cars but should have taken 1 car! There was a parking fee of $10 per car at the entrance of the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

pic: entrance of the event hall

From the entrance, I was already excited! It was my favorite piece and it was so inviting! Well… to me it was at least 🙂 Once you enter, you are welcomed by an attendant who will check you in, as well as a giant self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh. From here, there were photo spots you could take part in. It was already starting to feel immersive.

Pic: Me inside The Starry Night painting pop-up

Once you pass the entryway, there were lots of information about Vincent Van Gogh and it was backed up by letters Vincent sent to his brother, Theo. They had a great relationship and kept in touch wherever they went. You could tell that the brothers really loved and supported each other.

pic: inside the exhibition, showing the curatorial text

The text covers Vincent’s life, his ups and downs, his decision to go from an art dealer to an artist, and also his struggles with depression. Reading the letters made these issues feel so raw and I felt like I got to learn more about the artist. It isn’t a lot and doesn’t go in-depth, it gives a great perspective for people who are new to the artist.

Once you pass the wall of text, you are able to enter the immersive section of the exhibition and wow. The music and the moving images really took my breath away. The artwork I was familiar with made it easier for me to immerse in it. And the music was a perfect fit with all the images and I really enjoyed the moment. The immersive portion was about 40 minutes and we all just took up a spot and just became part of the show.

The space was pretty big so I kept moving around to find a place to see the whole room but every corner or even the middle of the room provided a great viewing spot. I think with the music and the moving images, I could have just stayed a long time. It was really relaxing and I think it was worth it for the experience.

pic: Me in front of self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh

For videos of the event, please see my instagram! And for tickets, go to the Beyond Van Gogh website 🙂

[Day 1] Off to Kanab, UT

We wanted to start the day early but after packing all our food in our icebox and moving things to the car, we ended up leaving the house around 10am. Our plan was to get to Las Vegas and eat lunch or late lunch and make it to Kanab around 9pm. I thought we would start seeing the fields but it wasn’t until we hit the border that I felt that we were truly on the road. We were prepared to be on the road for a while but I think the bathroom was our biggest fear. Our first stop was at a local gas station on Route 5 and luckily, they let us use the bathroom. Right before we hit the border, we also saw a truck stop that had a bathroom so plan accordingly.

We made our first stop at the Seven Magic Mountain around 3pm, a lot later than we expected. We also didn’t see the art installation until we were really close to it so I thought they were small. But once we parked at the lot and started to walk towards it, I realized that they were actually really tall!

We did see some people but most of them were wearing masks and people were distancing themselves as well. But it was still hard to get a picture with no one in it. The colors of the rocks were so bright, contrast to the bare sands of Nevada and really gave it that POP. We admired the work of Ugo Rondinone, took some pictures, stretched our bodies, and headed to the nearly picnic area (which happened to be in Las Vegas).

We brought some food that needed to be cooked and we needed a bathroom and picnic table and ended up in a park named Jesse Ellyson Picnic Area. It was a bit into the residential area but had a gazebo, picnic table, a grill, and a bathroom. However, the bathroom here was closed to the public. We took our what we needed and started cooking.

We brought my burner and camping equipment set so we had pans, pots, plates, and even bowls. We bought meat and veggie the day before and were able to enjoy our meals this way. I cooked some and my roommate cooked some and we both enjoyed it. We ended up eating around 4:30 pm so we assumed this would be our lunch and dinner and we would snack on the way if we got hungry. We filled up our gas and tried to use the bathroom at the 7-11 which was part of the gas station but they said that they were closed to the public (the horror!) but luckily, there was a gas station across the street and they had their bathroom open to the public (phew!)

Once out of Las Vegas, it was all desert again. The road went from 3-4 lanes to just 2 lanes and it got dark very quickly. And because of how dark it was, the stars were becoming visible. We ended up parking on the side of the road around 8:30 pm and just looking at the stars for a bit. And by the time we arrived at our lodge, it was close to 10pm.

We stayed at the Perry Lodge because it was walking distance from the community center where they would do the lottery in the morning. The check in was quick and the lobby area was very clean. They had hand sanitizer and were giving out masks for people who needed them.

The Lodge seemed pretty empty and they still had the vacancy sign on. They were being very careful with things so people won’t have to touch what other people have touched. So breakfast was going to be bagged and we would need to pick it up in the morning. And also, ice. They turned off their ice machine and if we wanted ice, we needed to ask front desk for a bag of it.

When we got to the room, we were surprised at how large it was. We had 2 king size beds and also had a fridge and microwave. The view out the window was just of the community center but still nice. It was very quiet and we were able to sleep in peace.