Vibrantly colored walls filled with larger-than-life artwork, light and sound displays that tickle your senses, and interactive installations that immerse you in the artspace embody the essence of Wonderspaces.
Breaking the barrier of “Do Not Touch,” several exhibits at Wonderspaces invite you to be an active participant in the art-making process. They’re not just for kids, although kids will love it — Wonderspaces allow everyone to lean into their playful and artistic sides. When you interact with other people’s ideas, you share and grow; it doesn’t matter if you are 10 years old or 70 years young.
Wonderspaces began in 2016 with the goal of connecting artists and new-to-art audiences. They partner with talented artists and allow them to showcase their unconventional art for an extended time period in venues that are accessible to everyone.
“From day one, we’ve been on a mission to present art shows that serve as a safe, welcoming, and local destination for extraordinary creativity,” says Wonderspaces’ co-founder and president, Jason Shin. “We believe an art show can be a place to gather and connect with friends and family that is as accessible as the neighborhood movie theater.”
The shows present unique works that have been shown at the Sundance Film Festival, Burning Man, South by Southwest, and more. New art rotates into the galleries throughout the year.
I visited Wonderspaces Arizona, and here are my takeaways on why you’ll love these unique art galleries.
Note: Information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
1. Extraordinary Art
The Scottsdale, Arizona, show features 14 artworks in a 16,000-square-foot space. Housed in a former movie theater in the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall, Wonderspaces Arizona is easily accessible.
As with all Wonderspaces, the artwork at Wonderspaces Arizona invites you to interact. Whether you are walking through an installation or viewing from afar, extraordinary art draws us in and challenges our worldview; it makes us think.
2. Interactive Exhibits
An interactive exhibit where the public can participate in the creation of art is the epitome of art immersion. Adding your personal flair to a group creating modern art is exciting and a little intimidating.
Before I Die is a global art project that invites the public to share personal aspirations. Created by Candy Chang, more than 5,000 Before I Die walls have been created in over 75 countries. Write your ultimate personal goal on the chalkboard, solidifying your intention.
The Rules is a test — are you a rule follower or a rule breaker? Rolling carts filled with colorful tape sit next to an enormous white wall partially filled with tape strips. Visitors may or may not see, read, or adhere to the rules — it’s okay. You are invited to add your own colorful tape creation to this intriguing installation. The work of Paola Ibarra, The Rules may define your personal outlook.
3. Virtual Light Play
In 10 years, will we all have a virtual reality room in our home or school? Will our entertainment room house multiple digital screens showcasing evolving digital artwork? Perhaps virtual reality spaces will become the new way to enjoy television. Cutting-edge technology will eventually trickle down to individual consumers, allowing us to enjoy captivating artistic creations in our own homes.
Volumen is a three-screen, multi-dimensional audiovisual display that evolves and interweaves between the screens. Designed by media artist Filip Roca, this mesmerizing, flowing architectural work is a peek into the future of digital art.
The first time I tried virtual reality was at the Spheres exhibit at Wonderspaces Arizona. You enter a black room, dimly lit with rows of benches (I advise taking one by the wall, as you may want to lean back). After putting on the 3D virtual reality headset, I was transported to another realm. In this instance, to a black hole in space. Look left, right, up, and down — you are engulfed in space. A soft voice whispers in your ear with information and ideas. Directed by Eliza McNitt, Spheres is an interesting sensorial experience that lingers long after you remove the headset.
4. Stunning Artwork
The Border is a scenescape by artist Carolin Wanitzek. You wander through a paper forest, enveloped in a colorful landscape. The different shades of cooling hues set a beautiful backdrop for the fire-popping colors of the bugs, butterflies, and dragonflies. It was a challenge not to reach out and touch this one.
5. The Future Of Art
As art evolves with technology, the outcome will continue to surprise and amaze us. As beautiful and evocative as the Mona Lisa was in the early 1500s, today’s technologically integrated artwork is equally as poignant and powerful.
Light Leaks by Kyle McDonald and Jonas Jongejan is an intricately designed presentation that surrounds the viewer with an amazing display of lights and sounds. With the mirrored balls strategically assembled to play with light refraction, you are treated to a delightful magic show.
6. The Bar
Enjoy a beverage, adult or otherwise, and obsessively watch the painters change the numbers on the Analog Digital Clock. Projected on the wall over the bar, filmed painters shift the digital numbers as minutes fly by. You can’t help but become absorbed in the passage of time as the painter’s shape-shift 2 seconds to 3, then 4, and so on. Watching how they transition the numbers without totally erasing them is art in motion.
This fascinating installation is part of the Real Time series; the brainchild of Maarten Baas.
In addition to Wonderspaces Arizona, there are other locations across the U.S. At the locations in Philadelphia, Austin, and San Diego, you will find more fun and interesting art installations that bring art up close and personal.
All tickets must be purchased online in advance and are for a specific date and time.
Wonderspaces Are Must-Visits
Whether you are artistically inclined, just appreciate great art, or are new to the art world, the way Wonderspaces displays extraordinary art in an accessible way makes them must-visits. Your experience will be filled with moments of wonder and beauty. The intricate details worked out for each installation are a testament to Wonderspaces’ expert team. You will quickly become an art lover and enthusiastic patron.
Pro Tips: After you have enjoyed the Wonderspaces experience, head outside to explore the wonderful outdoor adventures Scottsdale has to offer. And for your accommodations, consider the hip and retro Hotel Valley Ho — you will love the Mid-Century Modern throwback vibe.
For more adventures in art, consider: