Visitors shared their comments at the moment they exited the Van Gogh Alive event at Stanley Marketplace. A few chose not to comment, but all who did were enthusiastically positive about the experience. The recurring themes were: I really liked the music with the art. I really liked the quotes. I enjoyed it more than I expected.
Denverites’ comments about the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ production couldn’t have been more different from the New York Times art critic’s comments (though, in fairness, we don’t know how the Denver show differed from the New York shows): “These shows left me feeling largely indifferent; in fact, the strongest reaction I had was an alarming sense of intrusion and a disingenuous connection with the artist and his work.”
Annette: Unexpectedly beautifully done. I thought it might be much more wild with modern flashing lights and instead it was respectful of Van Gogh’s work.
Admira: I just thought it was a moment out of reality. It told a beautiful story, I think, really well.
Shannon: It was a little disorienting at first. It took a moment to kind of just settle in and figure out where to be. It was beautiful. I love how it kind of takes you on a journey through his evolution as an artist.
Mark: It’s a completely immersive experience. It was like being inside his work. Where else are you going to experience that? It’s incredible.
Susan: He could be quite philosophical. At the end, although he seemed to be sad and alone, there was a part of him that was so optimistic. I was more intent on his time periods and the quotes that were shown—I will go look more at his art elsewhere because, although I was enjoying it, I was really trying to think about what was being expressed in his quotes.
Jay: Beautiful but darker than expected.
KC, with 2 ½- and 3-year-old daughters: I enjoyed it because my daughters were enjoying it so much. They got to dance and run around on the images projected on the floor. They didn’t have any trouble lasting 45 minutes.
Michelle: It’s extremely moving because you’re immersed. You get a sense of what it was like to be in the moment with him. I loved it.
Cody, 10 yrs: It was pretty cool. It was better than going to a museum because you don’t have to walk around to look at all the different pictures because the pictures change. The big pictures and music are cool.
Karen: It’s what I needed in this period of time with all the stress and misinformation. This was a great escape and it makes me want to go home and draw. The quotes were just great. I realized if I would have stood in another part of the room, I could have seen everything without turning my head all the time. It was beautifully done with the music and very powerful. And my husband, we dragged him here and now he won’t come out.
Noel: I thought it was overwhelming and had such depth and quality because Van Gogh had such depth and quality. I would have liked to see individual periods or paintings for a longer time… As Van Gogh moved out of Paris and to the countryside, I began to see in his landscapes and flowers that they had personalities…there was a people component to them. In some pictures I saw torment and chaos and conflict, but in others I saw such freedom, color, and movement. I think anybody who lets the paintings soak in has a sense of who must have painted these.
I’m sure that my experiences [as a psychiatrist], in terms of dealing with emotions played into how I responded. Van Gogh’s colors and how prolific he was were influenced by his emotional condition, which most people have come to regard as a temporal lobe epilepsy. And he had a heart condition for which he took digitalis. Digitalis makes everything more yellow and green and off shade. So my sense is, his paintings reflected how he saw things.
I believe absolutely that if today’s medications had been available, they would have affected his art. Medications make people more “functional” in our society, but they stop taking their meds because it robs them of their passion. But I think Van Gogh would have had the passion and the free spirit to say, “I’m not taking these drugs, these poisons that would rob me of who I am.” One of his quotes was, “I just want people to accept me for who I am.”
Front Porch photos by Christie Gosch