‘Beyond Van Gogh’ Presides at a Mall

What a huge tent! Maybe this can be repurposed for an Old Time revival? A Trump rally? Or peddling fireworks? Maybe a wedding at the country club?

         “Beyond Van Gogh” may be a new style, high tech exhibit. Is this show totally sappy? Or totally a great trip? Certainly a marketing event par excellence!

         I saw it in early October with friends who seemed to enjoy the extravaganza as did my wife. Actually seeing some old favorite canvases dancing to schmaltzy music in the big tent can be mildly entertaining. Especially if your state has legalized weed.

         Here’s how BVG works. Their websites seem purely promotional to get you to one of some 40 U.S. cities sponsoring versions of BVG this year.

         First, you enter the big tent where attendants in a hallway scan your digital device is for payment. (No deductions for old folks; we’re mostly rich these days. Average-income families aren’t the target audience for this show.) Then you can take a selfie.

         Digital marketing and image manufacture; see and be seen!

         Then the experience becomes boring as we snake through a room of digital banners telling a bit about Vincent, his long-suffering brother Theo, and the ear-chopping incident featuring a cameo by his buddy Paul Gauguin.

         All that standing and reading has made you ready to see some real ART!

         We’re lining up for the Waterfall Room.

         Folks bunch up here to see the most lame light show in the world. Teenagers in the ’60s did better than this…

         “Well, it’s sort of based on some of Vincent’s starry night paintings,” a helpful attendant explained this small space. Save your legs! Skip it!

         The big show is the Main Exhibit Room, where a steadily shifting montage of Vincent’s painting play around all surfaces. Seeing sunflowers segue into a pretty peasant girl can be visually entertaining. But the swirling colors are washed out because the basketball court-sized venue has to be lit enough so folks don’t bump into each other. Maybe it’s better at night…

         “A museum is as good as the number of benches available,” an old duffer told me once. He had a point. BVG has almost no seating. Those who get a bench hog it till they get bored with the digital desecration of Vincent. Everyone must suffer for art!

         The finale? The gift shop! That’s sort of a museum trope these days, so you know it’s real. You need the apron, necktie, T-shirt, calendar, mouse-thingee, beer cozies or fridge magnet to help you recall this fabulous virtual event.

         Monet may soon be digitally animated. Were King Tut and the Sistine Chapel already chopped up for easy consumption? Thomas Kincade, Thomas Hart Benton and Norman Rockwell maybe too sophisticated for such treatment.

         Luckily there’s a portable VIP toilet just outside the gift room. It has a real flushing commode, an additional benefit of your entrance fee.

         Unless you know nothing about the famous Dutch master, save your $40. Maybe buy a book on the artist or just visit your library. Perhaps even an actual art museum! They’re mostly free in the Show-Me State.

         Or donate to a worthwhile charity, museum or a local arts organization that helps real folks, maybe a struggling artist, poet, or musician.

         It’s nice some Canadian firm is making money off Vincent. He sold almost nothing in his lifetime. Still he kept painting and drawing, writing letters and looking for a girlfriend.

         Maybe this company is giving schools a break so kids can see the show. Maybe they can learn about art and Vincent. Maybe they’ll learn not to be painters, and go into digital marketing.

         Will kids instead learn to program computer games? Or create nonfungible tokens to be squirreled away in some Wall Street vault until the market pops…

         A big tent for big truckload of art! Everyone must suffer for art!

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