MESMERIZE

Nicole Bolar

The Quick Facts

Mesmerize is a temporary interactive art exhibit. Just like the Texas State Fair it’s here one day and gone the next – So enjoy this amazing experience while you still can!

It’s a great space to inspire creativity! Bring your cameras and get ready for a photoshoot because every room you enter is pretty picture perfect. There are 15 art exhibits to explore. Neon lights, a rose covered throne, one long rainbow hallway, and a cloud covered room are just a couple examples of the awesome spaces you’ll be able to use for your Instagram pic’s backdrop.

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You can meet the artists who designed it all! Clayton Lillard and Mateo Gutierrez work within the exhibit to help guide you and answer any questions you may have! I stopped to talk with Mateo – who was dressed absolutely fabulously by the way – and we got to talk about his inspiration for Mesmerize. He described many of the same feelings we all had during quarantine…feelings of sadness and boredom, as well as the desire to escape reality. In an effort to break out of that creative rut, he worked on concepts for Mesmerize. Mateo used the current exhibit as a way to channel his energy into something productive in a time where everything seemed to be disheartening in the normal world. He hopes that the interactive exhibit will inspire visitors to pursue their own creative dreams like working on the project inspired him to get back to his passion. 

The Experience

To begin the experience, one of the artists leads you to a nondescript door. Pulling the handle, he waves his hand forward to welcome me into the first dimly light room. Immediately I recognized it as a scientist’s private office. The Equipment, wires, and tubes winding their way out of an old tv in the corner drew my eye first. The tv looked like it was straight out of the movie The Ring, but instead of static, black and white stripes rapidly swirled inward and out of sight. It looked like a portal to a different universe. 

Already I was hooked. I wanted to know more about Mesmer, this mysterious visionary who believed in unworldly experiences beyond our imagination. Dark corridors and beams of light guide you along the way, casting a rainbow of shadows across the walls and floors. Secret rooms and trick wardrobes make it feel like you’re walking out of one world and into another – I felt like Lucy discovering the land of Narnia! 

The fun comes with each visitor’s unique interpretation of the art. One particular area supposed to look whimsical a fun, left a sad impression on me as I walked through alone. Everything I laid eyes on, and I mean everything was teal. That’s right, the color teal. The floor, the walls, the furniture, the pictures – it was all washed in a shade of muted blue-green. Running my hands across a solid teal piano, I envisioned a world that was cold. One lived in by a person who tainted everything they touched and left it frozen in their absence. 

Each exhibit tested the limits of normality. Don’t be surprised to find yourself going from open spaces filled with color to dark rooms where it’s impossible to make out where one wall ends, and another begins. Expecting the weird, wacky, and wonderful I was surprised to find myself in a state of quiet stillness and thoughtfulness as I wondered through the exhibits. Scattered throughout are handwritten notes left by Mesmer, provoking deeper thoughts about life and further intensifying my feelings. 

Along the way, I helped a group of girls get their Instagram pictures in the cloud room and down the rainbow hallway. After they left, I had the entire exhibit to myself and it got very quiet. I wondered through, revisiting sites I had already seen to get an even closer look. The most memorable part for me was leaving a note on the wishing tree in the main room. The bright green tree looks like it would come straight out of a storybook or maybe even Willy Wonka, with twisting branches going up to the ceiling and colorful leaves in every color lining the branches. Wishes from past visitors tell stories about what they were thinking in that same moment, and what they wanted for the world or for themselves in the future. It was powerful to read some of them, and I made sure to leave my own.

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I highly recommend Mesmerize! Not only is the exhibit amazing, but Native Hostel is an absolutely stunning hotel with a full café and bar on the inside. I made sure to grab a coffee on my way out!

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