Lighthouse Immersive Brings Van Gogh
by Camilla Mikolajewska
From February 11th onwards, Chicago's art scene gets a major boost with the arrival of the acclaimed Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit. Originally beginning in Toronto, this expansion to the 'windy city' was made possible by the three-way collaboration between Irina Shabshis and Maria Shclover of Maestro Artist Management and Lighthouse Immersive. Chicago will now be able to experience the beauty and unique experience of an exhibit that managed to sell 200, 000 ticket in Toronto—while keeping visitors safe during the pandemic.
Maestro Artist Management Inc. has been operating since 2004 as a production company, and have been working alongside Svetlana Dvoretsky, Founder, President & Producer of Show One Productions and Co-Founder of Lighthouse Immersive, to bring artistic productions from overseas to North America. “We always do something creative to introduce people to different varieties of art” says Shabshis. Maria Shclover had the pleasure of seeing Immersive Van Gogh when it was being exhibited in Paris and said “I fell in love with it in Paris, and have been looking for an opportunity to bring it to North America”. Alongside Corey Ross, producer and founder of Starvox Entertainment and Co-Founder of Lighthouse Immersive, and against the odds of a global pandemic, Immersive Van Gogh continues to thrive.
"Chicago on its own is its own art exhibit. So for a creative exhibit like Immersive Van Gogh, it’s the perfect city to start with."
Shclover states that “it will not only be different rooms, but also different view points.” As patrons make their way through these rooms, ending up in the ballroom, they will then make their way up to the fourth floor. This will lead them to a balcony where they can see the ballroom from above, examining the art from a completely different vantage point. The Italian producers believe this will enhance the exhibit, allowing the art to move with you, creating a truly immersive experience.
by Jeremy Lewis
So why Chicago? “Chicago is cultural, vibrant and artistic” says Shclover “many successful projects started there”. Chicago has always been known for its artistic community. Whether it’s museums, galleries or the architecture of the city itself, you can find art everywhere. “Chicago on its own is its own art exhibit” Shabshis continues, “so for a creative exhibit like Immersive Van Gogh, it’s the perfect city to start with”.
The exhibit will be taking place in the Germania Club building, located in the heart of the Golden Coast, near old town Chicago. Constructed in the 19th century, this victorian style architectural landmark is an art museum in itself. Shabshis explains that the beauty of the building cannot be ignored, and Immersive Van Gogh will be highlighting the architecture of the space as part of the experience. Lighthouse Immersive will take up 90% of the building across four floors. The first floor will be reserved for the lobby area and coat check, while the 2nd floor will contain the merchandise shop, café, a seating area and a lounge space with a bar.
The 3rd floor will be where the exhibit begins. The layout of this exhibit will be completely different from that of Toronto, as it is spread out across four different rooms. “Germania club has a completely different character” says Shabshis, “our Italian designers have had to adjust the exhibit to the shear volume of the elegance of this classic space”.
Now what about Covid? Immersive Van Gogh Toronto was the only artistic production that was able to take place during a global pandemic, so how will Chicago be replicating the protocols Toronto was able to put in place? “It will be easier for us as we already know what works” says Shclover. “Living in this environment since March, we already know what needs to be done” says Shabshis. Maestro Artist Management Inc. is communicating closely with the city of Chicago to ensure they are following all safety protocols. This will include things like monitoring the capacity of the building, incorporating social distancing circles, and having a mandatory mask policy in place. “The main reason is to create a safe environment to allow people to want to return with friends and family” says Shclover.
In a not-so-distant world free from Covid, there are many plans for the Germania Club building. As of now, Lighthouse Immersive has a five year lease on the building, but they are aiming for five more in order to create an all purpose art space. “This building is so versatile, we want to create an experience that makes people want to come back” says Shclover. The goal in the end is to have rights to the whole building, to not only have this exhibit, but also events such as live music, theatrical performances, movie screenings, artist talks, dance performances, and many more. The possibilities will be endless. They are also considering hosting lifestyle classes such as yoga, in order to welcome and expand to a larger audience of people. “This will make people feel like they are a part of the neighbourhood” says Shclover.
Covid-19 has definitely slowed things down for many industries, but Immersive Van Gogh is moving on strong. With tickets already on sale from now through to September, patrons are eagerly awaiting their chance to attend the exhibit. “People are enthusiastic and hopeful” says Shclover. “We are not wrong to bring something positive”.