Beyond Van Gogh Portland: walking out of a painting
I’ve been watching with hungry eyes as other big cities around the United States host Van Gogh experiences. So naturally I was all over it when I heard about Beyond Van Gogh Portland (Oregon).
Beyond Van Gogh is so much more than just walking through an art gallery. With Van Gogh’s artwork life-size, covering the walls and floors, it was like walking straight out of one of his paintings.
A Quick Background: Vincent Van Gogh
Ok. So first, a <super> quick history on Vincent Van Gogh, for those of us who aren’t art buffs. Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands in 1853. An art dealer, a bookseller, a teacher, and a preacher, Van Gogh was a painter for only the final 10 years of his life. Proof it’s never to late to chase those dreams.
Yes, this is the artist who cut off his left ear. Van Gogh struggled on and off for years with his mental health. He spent a year in St. Paul Asylum in France. In fact, he painted Starry Night using the view from his asylum bedroom window as inspiration. Tragically, in 1890, Van Gogh succumbed to his battle with mental health and shot himself. He was only 37 years young.
Van Gogh’s style of art falls under the categories of post-Impressionism and pointillism. He believed portraits to be the highest art form and practiced to perfect his skill.
Below: I can feel this guy in the portrait eyeing me where I sit on my bench. I eye him right back.
The Deets: Who, What, Where, When, and Parking
The Beyond Van Gogh exhibit is for everyone, regardless of age, interests or knowledge. Art buffs, people who know nothing about art, adults, students, toddlers. The younger children we saw at the exhibit were absolutely mesmerized with the projections on the floors. And the exhibit hall is ADA accessible. Limited seating is available.
*However, if you suffer from epilepsy or vertigo, you may want to check with your doctor before attending.
Five different companies are offering Van Gogh immersive experiences in the United States. It can get a little confusing, as their names all sound somewhat similar (Immersive Van Gogh, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Exhibition, Van Gogh Alive, and Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience). They’re hitting different cities, so your experience may vary from mine, and I’d love to compare notes!
The Beyond Van Gogh Portland exhibit is being hosted at the Oregon Convention Center in downtown Portland, on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
The event will run from November 19th, 2021 to January 9th, 2022.
Parking is conveniently available on-site at the Oregon Convention Center. It was well lighted, and we were able to park just a few hundred feet from the elevators, which took us up 2 floors, directly to the exhibit hall. We paid $10/vehicle.
What to Expect at Beyond Van Gogh Portland
I find the format of the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit to be current and relevant. We need an experience like this to halt us in the rush of our distracted, quick-paced lives. To ground us, connect us to the beauty in this world.
When you visit, you’ll be directed through two exhibit rooms, with a gift shop at the end. All in all, we spent about an hour exploring the exhibit.
The first room leads you through a zig-zag of canvases, separated by picture frames, for a dramatic effect. The room is dark, almost black. Bright projections onto the canvases pop out, describing the artist’s life and work. We moved through comfortably at our own pace, taking about 15 minutes to read through the history.
Room two, large and open, holds the main attraction. All the photos and reels on social media can’t do it justice, because it truly is an experience. You have to feel it for yourself. And you can’t do that through a screen.
We sat, we wandered, we stood. For about 30 to 45 minutes, we lost ourselves in the projections on the walls and floors. We watched, as portraits morphed into flowers, and witnessed sketches come to life, as if we were watching the artist at work, at that very moment.
The show was accentuated by a musical score, ranging from a calm to energetic instrumental. It all felt surreal. I didn’t want to leave.
The gift shop stands between the exhibit and the exit. If you’re wanting to bring home a souvenir, you’ll find t-shirt, puzzles, and Van Gogh prints, among others things, here.
Tips to get the most out of your Beyond Van Gogh Portland visit
-> To get the most out of your visit, be ready to slow down, stand present in the moment, and get lost in the sensory experience.
-> If you pay attention to the details, you may notice a few surprises. For example, the portraits blink!
-> Be on time. You may not be allowed entry, if late.
-> Bring a mask.
-> No food or drinks inside the exhibit.
-> Please don’t touch the walls.
See Beyond Van Gogh in Other Cities
Mark you calendars! Although Beyond Van Gogh has already come and gone in some cities, it is currently open in, or will soon be visiting, 15 US cities. These cities include Baltimore, Birmingham, Buffalo, Charleston, Danbury, Milwaukee, Omaha, Reno, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Jose, Sarasota, St. Louis, and Washington DC.
It will also be visiting Calgary and Hamilton in Canada. Internationally, it will be visiting Puerto Rico and Chile.
A Proposition to the Creators of Beyond Van Gogh Portland
To the creators of Beyond Van Gogh Portland: If you read this, I present you a request. No, a challenge. Bring us more of these immersive exhibits showcasing other painters. Bring the art culture alive for us all to experience. Show us Picasso, Goya, Rembrandt, and Kahlo. I loved Beyond Van Gogh Portland. And I want more.
To my readers: If you, like me, want more, share this post. Help my voice be heard.
Looking for other things to do in Oregon this holiday season? Here’s The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Lights in Oregon 2021.