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Arts & Entertainment

Psychedelic Robot Broadcasts Art To Instagram, But How Accessible Is It, Really?

For $35—or a $200 VIP experience—you, too, can decorate your Instagram with colorful art.
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Psychedelic Robot Broadcasts Art To Instagram, But How Accessible Is It, Really?

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The interactive pop-up art museum is a recent invention. We can trace its origins to Refinery29’s 29Rooms, or the Museum of Ice Cream in Manhattan. The trend made its Dallas entrée last spring with the Sweet Tooth Hotel, which was so popular it’s returning with a new theme in November.

The concept is heavily associated with colorful murals and cheeky neon signs; its hallmark, though, is Instagram-ability. That is the true platform, the reason why it started in cities like Los Angeles and ended up here. Now, it seems pop-ups are here to stay.

Dallas’ Bivins Gallery is the latest institution to jump on the “immersive experience” bandwagon. Its new exhibition, Psychedelic Robot, is about to take over your social feeds.

The show, on view through September 29, is the gallery’s attempt to make fine art more accessible to the masses. They’ve enlisted 17 artists from Dallas and beyond to create a maze of wildly colorful rooms winding through the former Shak space at The Crescent. The sole purpose of these rooms is for viewers to experience – and photograph – the art. Upstairs in the VIP lounge, a separate gallery space has artworks available for purchase, with price points ranging from $350 to $75,000.

The show features renowned artists from Dallas and beyond, including Color Condition, Mr. Brainwash, Izk, Jojo Anavim, Michael McPheeters, and more.

Strolling through the colorful hallways, you get a sense of each artist’s personality. It’s an undeniably fun experience.

In one room, Los Angeles-based street artist LeCash has tagged every wall with oversized, bright paintings. There’s a flying pig, a friendly ghost, and two balloon dogs – a playful riff on Jeff Koons’ iconic imagery. In the adjacent space, you’ll find a romanticized vision of Americana created by Russian artists Denis Mikhaylov and Lidia Vitkovskaya. Superheroes fly across the wall with the delicate strokes of a renaissance painting.

“The people in Texas are really the same as the people in Russia. Here they like American things like Russians like Russian things,” Vitkovskaya explains as she shows me a two-headed frog emblazoned with the Texas flag.

Continue down the hall, and you’ll wind up in the recreated studio of Dallas artist not.travis. Cans of spray paint litter the floor and there’s a good chance you’ll find him at work. “This being an immersive exhibit, this seemed like the best way,” he says.

Keep walking, and the maze unfolds into a large room of installations, including a dreamy butterfly motif by Punk Me Tender.

The artists don’t seem to mind that their work is geared toward Instagram. Maybe that’s just the expectation these days. I ask LeCash how he feels about it, and he gives me a knowing smile.

“To be honest, one thing I learned is you have to go with the flow,” he said. “You have to find a way to be involved and stand out.”

Co-owner Michael Bivins compares the interactive concept to a visual Woodstock for today’s youth. This isn’t just something to post online – it’s something to share.

“Everybody still wants that human intervention, but they want an experience as well”

Yet, even as the art spreads across the city via Instagram, one can’t help but wonder how accessible this really is.

Admission to the exhibition is $35 for an hour (access to the ground floor only) or $200 for a VIP day pass. The gallery is tucked in between Hotel Crescent Court and Stanley Korshak at one of Dallas’ poshest addresses. It’s unclear if this exhibition is doing much more than making art collecting more accessible for the upper-middle-class.

Though, I suppose that everyone who takes a selfie in Psychedelic Robot gets to take a piece of artwork with them – if only on their cellphone.

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