by Joe Tracy, editor of Theme Park Magazine
A breath of fresh, creative air is sweeping across the Pacific Northwest as Hopscotch, the renowned immersive art experience from San Antonio, has brought its creative artistic vibes to Portland, Oregon. This expansion brings Portlanders an immersive feast for the senses with 14 distinct installations, each offering a unique slice of artistry designed to inspire, engage, and enchant.
Embodying a bold reinterpretation of immersive experiences, Hopscotch Portland, the brainchild of Nicole Jensen and Hunter Inman, stands as a testament to the seamless fusion of art, technology, and culinary science. Nestled within the expansive shell of a former hardware store, this 23,000-square-foot marvel opens the door to a world where art is not just observed but lived.
Upon stepping through the enigmatic Medusa entryway, guests find themselves in an inviting bar and lounge. Here, their senses are courted by the culinary delights of Top Chef alum Sara Hauman, whose small-bite creations serve as the perfect prelude to the journey ahead. At Hopscotch Portland, the canvas extends beyond the gallery walls, transforming each visit into an intimate dance with art, innovation, and fascination.
Creating an Artistic Wonder Land
To breathe life into every installation, Hopscotch has curated a distinctive ensemble of local, national, and international artists. This results in a dynamic representation of diverse artistry that is bound to captivate visitors, particularly with the lure of interactive engagement.
Take, for instance, the Quantum Trampoline, a creation of Kuflex from Moscow, Russia. Guests are invited to step out of their shoes and ascend onto a platform that blends the springiness of jumping on a bed with the comfort of a bean bag. The true spectacle unfolds as one begins to move. With each movement, their reflection morphs into scintillating light particles, creating an enchanting dance of luminosity that echoes the visitor’s every motion. Kuflex describes the experience as follows:
“In this space, barriers for self-expression and spontaneous creativity disappear. Here you can become a stream of light or a particle of the infinite cosmos.”
Within the Laser Graffiti installation, a brainchild of Todd Moyer from Los Angeles, visitors are handed a unique ‘digital spray can.’ With this tool, they can unleash their creativity by etching temporary graffiti onto a digital canvas that is the wall. The ephemeral nature of the artwork adds to its charm as each piece lingers for a few moments before vanishing, making room for new expressions.
In the Unknown Atmospheres installation, conceived by local artist Seth Nehil and Parallel Studio, guests are welcomed into an enchanting realm of light and sound. An array of 7,000 suspended bulbs forms a captivating light grid visitors walk through while sharp, cinematic sounds weave a rhythmic tapestry around the visitor. Together, they generate a constantly morphing matrix that immerses guests in a sensory spectacle. The goal is to make visitors “question whether what we see is perception vs. reality and if there is really a difference between the two.”
Rainbow Cave, crafted by New York artist Basia Goszczynska, is a mesmerizing display of transformed waste material. It creatively repurposes salvaged plastic bags, breathing new life into the non-decomposable scraps by shaping them into a stunningly beautiful cave. Through this remarkable art piece, the artist prompts us to reevaluate our relationship with waste, nature, and the divine, by transforming the discarded into something exquisitely precious. As Goszczynska puts it, “Rainbow Cave invites us to reconsider our relationship with waste, nature and God by making the discarded precious.”
Within the mesmerizing confines of Rainbow Cave, two additional installations await discovery, including Diodic Daydream, the brainchild of Matchless Builds in Portland. This playful oasis invites guests to immerse themselves in a sea of color created by 40,000 glowing diodes casting radiant waves through 150,000 luminescent orbs. The intention is to create a canvas for guests to explore their creative self-expression in a whimsical environment, encouraging them to play, wander, and lose themselves in this enchanting universe of light and color.
These installations merely scratch the surface of the immersive art experience that Hopscotch Portland offers.
The Transformation of Hopscotch: An Artful Journey to Portland
Conceived by Jensen and Inman, Hopscotch was born as a captivating pop-up experience in Austin, Texas, in 2019. Bolstered by an investment from Brian Claypool, it blossomed into a permanent attraction in San Antonio in 2020. The overwhelming success of the two-story San Antonio installation spurred conversations about potential expansion into other cities.
In a conversation with Theme Park Magazine, Jensen revealed that Portland, Oregon, emerged as the ideal location after a comprehensive search to identify a city that encapsulated creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and a robust sense of community. Portland’s vibrant spirit fulfilled all three criteria.
After investing several months in developing the Portland venue in 2022, Jensen felt an irresistible pull to the city, ultimately leaving Austin and making Portland her home in October 2022.
For Jensen, the cornerstone of crafting an experience like Hopscotch lies in meticulous attention to detail, fostering community engagement, and delivering exceptional customer service. She envisioned the Portland venue as a refuge where visitors could momentarily escape the world’s worries and immerse themselves in pure enjoyment. From the spaceship-esque aesthetic that greets visitors as they traverse the venue to every minute aspect of the design, the dedication to detail is evident. As Jensen says, “Everything should be part of the experience.”
A Fusion of Art, Community, and Culinary Adventure at Hopscotch Portland
The success and enduring appeal of Hopscotch Portland hinge upon the vibrant participation of local artists and the community, ingredients that breathe life into this memorable experience.
“The magic lies in integrating the local artists,” says Jensen, acknowledging the integral role these creative minds play. Dozens of local artists were involved in the creation of the experience.
However, the richness of Hopscotch Portland doesn’t just stem from its art. A distinct flavor comes from the unique culinary creations of local food artist and Top Chef alum Sara Hauman. Her inventive dishes form an integral part of the Hopscotch journey.
Visitors to Hopscotch Portland can anticipate an enticing dance of flavors featuring innovative spins on familiar dishes like Mac & Cheese, Waffles, Popcorn, and Ice Cream. Each offering is a world away from the mundane. Take, for instance, the Thai Style Popcorn, a tantalizing mix of popcorn, red boat salt, candied peanuts, cilantro, and sweet chili butter, or the Forager’s Dream, a decadent blend of chocolate ice cream, porcini fudge, and chocolate-covered truffle potato chips. The Sushi Lucy breaks the mold with its waffle batter base layered with spicy albacore tuna, seaweed, avocado, and black sesame. Some guests might even be drawn to Hopscotch for the culinary delights alone, with the immersive art experience as a bonus.
And, of course, there are the unique drinks served in custom Hopscotch jars or artistically crafted cans. Among the many offering, guests can savor the Electric Avenue cocktail, made with Tito’s vodka, lime, Violette, electric dust, and butterfly pea syrup. Then there’s the allure of the Parallel Dimension with its mix of Blanco Tequila, Mr. Black Cold Brew Liqueur, Tamarind Liqueur, lime, agave, and orange peel garnish are not to be missed. Exclusive to Rainbow Cave is The Secret Garden, a concoction of Portland Dry Gin 33, lemon, simple syrup, basil, and effervescent bubbles.
Plan Your Visit to Hopscotch: Locations, Hours, and More
Whether you find yourself in the vibrant heart of Texas or the buzzing Pacific Northwest, a unique Hopscotch experience awaits. For those exploring Portland, you can immerse yourself in this innovative art space at 1020 SE 10th Ave, open from noon to 9 pm from Thursday to Sunday. If your travels take you to San Antonio, Hopscotch welcomes you at 711 Navarro St. STE. 100 from Wednesday to Sunday, 11 am to 9 pm.
Intrigued about the costs and further details? Visit the Hopscotch Portland or Hopscotch San Antonio websites to get the most updated pricing information. See Explore More: Resources below for links.
Explore More: Videos
Explore More: Resources
feature image (Quantum Trampoline) and Rainbow Cave image courtesy of ©Hopscotch. All other images by Joe Tracy for ©Theme Park Magazine.