Came for the art, stayed for the acid trip.

When I first learned about the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit a couple of years ago, I was immediately intrigued. It’s not that I have any particular affinity for the troubled painter (though I’m pretty sure I had a Starry Night print hanging in my living room in a former life), but I thought the combination of light and music looked, well…pretty bitchin’.

I also figured I’d never get a chance to see the exhibit in person, living in the cultural wasteland of western South Dakota. That’s not a dig; they don’t have the population to support a Trader Joe’s or Costco, let alone something this grand. But if you like giant rock carvings, you’re golden.

Madison, on the other hand? Heaps o’ culture. That was probably the biggest selling point for us. And fortunately, when the traveling exhibit announced a Madison stop, they timed it for a few months after we moved here. Better still? I took advantage of a Black Friday deal and snagged 25% off the ticket prices. Which, if you have been, you know are not cheap.

Totally worth it.

The video plays on a 30-minute loop, and when we first arrived, it was about 1/3 of the way through. We took seats on a bench, but moved to the floor, where most everybody else was sitting, when it started over. The 360º digital projections, accompanied by music, completely envelop you. It’s like you’re right in the middle of the art – not just a spectator, but a living, breathing part of each painting. Not only are you surrounded by poetry on all four sides, but the floor is a fifth side, the carpet absolutely shimmering at times with colorful lights. It’s like a laser light show but on a grander scale. The walls appear to be melting at times. Total acid trip.

We both agreed the whole thing was very moving and would have been worth the price of admission even at full cost. If you have a chance to see it yourself, I highly recommend.

After the exhibit, we drove downtown for a couple of cocktails and an early dinner at the Tipsy Cow. It was bitterly cold, but I insisted on walking around Capitol Square to check out the Christmas lights. There are different trees on all four corners, plus State Street is all decked out in holiday finery.

It’s a winter wonderland out here, by the way. There’s snow everywhere. Covering the trees, blanketing the fields. So much, in fact, that it’s piled up in the middle of the street in Madison. With daytime temps in the teens and even colder weather coming, it won’t be going away anytime soon.

Bitter cold notwithstanding, I was finished with my weekly work by noon on Friday and wanted to get out of the apartment for a few hours, so I drove five minutes to Dorothy Carnes County Park for a hike in the snow. Luckily, I’d had the foresight to bring along my rechargeable hand warmers. I hadn’t used them in almost a year, and yet, they still had some juice left.

Only about 10 minutes’ worth of charge, it turned out. But that’s okay. I was too busy whipping my gloves off every few seconds to take pictures anyway.

Today we’re pretty much just hunkering down and watching movies. When it’s this cold out, who feels like doing anything more?

34 thoughts on “Came for the art, stayed for the acid trip.

  1. I’m in the same situation where I thought I would not get to see this (I live on the road, mostly very rural places), but, by chance, I learned that the exhibit will be near where I’ll be when my son is flying out to visit. (You don’t need these details: my point is that the stars aligned.) Thanks for the boosting the hype!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That does look trippy! Best seen sober I’m sure… My neighbor just went to see the Impressionist Immersive show in Boston. Don’t think she enjoyed it as much as you.
    I’m a little disappointed there was no review or photos of the Tipsy Cow. I mean, come on…. Cow.
    We managed about two wet slushy inches from the storm yesterday. It melted to less than one and then froze overnight. No pretty fluffy stuff yet and the N’Or Easter that’s due on Friday will have 50 mph winds and rain. That’s just wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was actually sitting there at dinner last night thinking, Rivergirl would be taking photos of all this deliciousness and sharing them on her blog. But that fleeting thought was as far as I got, ha! Wind and rain? In late December? Eww.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We saw that (or maybe it was one one the several versions touring the world) in San Diego and thoroughly enjoyed it too. Expensive, but worth it (funny how the expense fades away and the experience stays with you). Downtown Madison is gorgeous! Cold, but gorgeous (so, rechargeable handwarmers are actually a thing?). I loved your picture of the barn in the snow… that is frame-worthy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I learned about rechargeable hand warmers from my dad. You plug them into a USB port and then they emit heat for several hours. Very ingenious. There’s lots of different styles; these are pretty close to what I have.


  4. That immersive exhibit looks like it would be one wonderfully wild ride. Love those downtown, nighttime scenes in Madison. Hands definitely > hand warmers when it comes to taking pictures. What’s a little frostbite when you can get park pictures like those?🥶

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just looked. It’s here in Seattle until February. I thought it had come and gone long ago. You’re not kidding on the price and sadly, where it’s housed in Seattle parking rates would rival if not beat out the cost of a ticket. That’s just too steep for me, but glad you enjoyed it! Also… sorry, had to pause for a moment- the fire crew just brought Santa down the street on the truck so I had to take a look… also, thanks for the hand warmer reminder. I’ve been whining to myself that even with gloves my fingers are numb when I walk. Your comment made me remember I have a stockpile of regular old and cheap air activated hand warmers somewhere with all my hiking stuff! I am on my way to dig them out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I forgot how ridiculously expensive parking is in Seattle. I think we paid $20 for the lot at the EMP…and that was 10+ years ago. Luckily, there was no charge for parking in Madison.

      Those cheap air-activated hand warmers work pretty well, too! I have a few pairs lying around somewhere myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love it when a city does a gorgeous light display. Someone in our neighborhood put lights up their tree trunks like that and it looks so good. And I suppose easier than draping lights over branches.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed the immersive Van Gogh last year. I didn’t know a thing about it, but a friend invited me last minute. I think I liked the Astra Lumina light exhibit more, because you could walk around and see different installations, but the immersive events are cool also. Though they need comfier seating!


  8. First all your pictures are awesome. Second…loved Van Gogh….thought it was such a cool use of tech and bringing art in a different way….


  9. Hard “NO!” on the snow.
    Soft “no” on Van Gogh.

    Yes to:

    “Today we’re pretty much just hunkering down and watching movies. When it’s this cold out, who feels like doing anything more?”

    My thoughts exactly!


  10. Your photographs are beautiful.
    The menu at The Tipsy Cow looks really good. The name alone is worth a visit, me thinks.

    I’ve heard conflicting opinions about the Van Gogh experience, but I really enjoyed your perspective, and I’m glad you both enjoyed it.

    It’s really cold down here and we are expecting lots of snow this week. Staying in sounds nice.😊


  11. You make the exhibit sound more appealing than the ads. However, since my arthritis makes it hard for me to sit on the floor, I don’t think I would have been able to have the same (acid) experience you did. I haven’t even tried the chewable marijuana tablets I got a few weeks ago yet! I don’t regret missing the exhibit when I had the opportunity in more than one place to experience it.
    I am, however, experiencing my first MI winter and not enjoying it at all! I know it’s probably more brutal than usual as we have all “welcomed” the Blizzard of ’03. Let’s just say the appeal of becoming a snowbird is growing for the CA weather wimp.


  12. My girls and I saw the Van Gogh exhibit last year; it was also terrific for us. We really enjoyed it.

    Your snow hike looks excellent! (you are brave though!) That barn photo is frame worthy!

    Liked by 1 person

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