People head to new Immersive Van Gogh exhibit, as large-scale events return to Charlotte

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It’s Gogh time: As more and more shops and venues start to open up again around Charlotte, large events are also making a comeback — including the popular Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, which opened Thursday.

For many who attended, it was their first time seeing a big show since the coronavirus pandemic began.

“It feels cool to be able to go out and do stuff and feel normal again,” Hillary Pietrucci said. “We haven’t been to an art show in forever.”

The immersive digital art show from Lighthouse Immersive has set up shop at Camp North End’s historic Ford Building, which dates to 1924 and once was a manufacturing site for Model T and Model A cars. There’s even a Model T on site where people can hop in the back and pose for pictures.

The exhibit of the work of Vincent Van Gogh, the famous and famously troubled Impressionist combines moving images and music throughout.

Organizers partnered with Blumenthal Performing Arts on the project. On Wednesday, during a ceremony to officially cut the ribbon for the exhibit, Blumenthal President and CEO Tom Gabbard said how excited he was for people to visit it and share a common experience coming out of the pandemic.

“Immersive Van Gogh will provide people that opportunity to be together, to safely enjoy an arts experience. And this will be one of the very first opportunities people will have,” Gabbard said.

He also said the exhibit was able to put a lot of people back to work, from the many people who worked to put the exhibit together to local artists whose work is being highlighted at the site and the gift shop.

The immersive exhibition shows digital depictions of many of Van Gogh’s famous paintings. His works are displayed on 500,000 cubic feet of projects, and as they transform, they are accompanied by music ranging from Edith Piaf to Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit drew over 2 million visitors in Paris, and had sold-out runs in Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now it’s coming to Charlotte.
The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit drew over 2 million visitors in Paris, and had sold-out runs in Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now it’s coming to Charlotte.

Exceeding expectations

“It definitely went above my expectations,” said Julia Merhai, whose boyfriend bought her tickets to the show as a surprise. “It was beautiful.”

The show originated in Paris and has been recreated in several large cities across the U.S., including New York.

The venue for the Charlotte show, Camp North End, is different from other showings in its sheer size. The floor of the venue is also covered in a layer of bricks that add more of a 3D effect to the show. There are social-distancing circles illuminated on the floor but masks are not required.

“We really liked it,” said Venus Baker, who took her home-schooled daughter to the show as part of her art education. “I liked that it really engaged your visual senses.”

In addition to the show, the lobby features many sculptures and pieces of art from local artists. There is a gift shop, cafe and lots of seating in the venue as well.

“I think this is the perfect opportunity to go back into what I believe is hopefully a new normalcy,” art-lover Edie Darling said.

The show will be running through mid-September. Ticket prices start at $40 for adults and $25 for kids ages 6-16. Admission for children under 6 is free.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit vangoghclt.com.