Who couldn’t use some escapism? Sure, we kicked 2020 to the curb, yet life as we knew it pre-“The-Year-We-Shall-Not-Name” is still outside of our grasp. But there are still adventures to be had, especially if you’re willing to go down the right rabbit hole. And San Antonio’s Hopscotch has one waiting for you to explore.
Explained as “an immersive and experiential brand that brings together artists in collaborative environments to create distinctive shared experiences,” Hopscotch goes beyond an art exhibition. It’s art that surrounds you, pulls you in and takes you along for a ride. Stepping into Hopscotch is diving into a playground where local, national and international artists experiment with a spectrum of mediums and technology, creating joy, wonder and reflection.
The cynic scoffs when greeted by a pink neon installation of the David Bowie quote, “I don’t know where I’m going from here but I promise it won’t be boring.” Yet Hopscotch delivers, with a terrific lounge that sets the mood for what’s ahead. The bar offers specialty cocktails and seasonal drinks, while on the patio, you’ll find Smack’s Chicken Shack. With Nashville hot chicken sandwiches and the specialty Hopscotch Donut Sando featuring panko-breaded chicken in between two glazed donuts with honey butter, powdered sugar and sprinkles, the lounge and patio are a destination to enjoy even if you’re not diving into the art.
Roaming through Hopscotch, it’s easy to forget anything but the art that surrounds and challenges you. Each installation is unique and engaging, which at times is a challenge. You find yourself torn between longing to stay with each installation, marveling at how the artist created it, and nagging curiosity and excitement about what the next one has in store.
That “Rabbit Hole?” It’s from Austinite and digital fabricator Ilya Tinker. Depending on when you visit, the lighting changes, so no two viewings are the same. And that’s exactly what Hopscotch wants. Visit again and again and you’ll find something new and different each time, especially since the installations are rotating. It’s a fantastic concept, but makes me sad because honestly? Each installation is so engaging that it’s hard to imagine getting bored or wanting to see something new.
No two installations are alike, yet each draws you in. Technology and light react to your body in “Symbiosis” and “Quantum Space,” installations from Kuflex, a Russian studio of interactive digital art, while artist Matt Elson’s “Infinity Boxes” create optical illusions that draw you in. Paint digital graffiti. VJ yourself in a music video. Roam through a rainbow cave. Let light and sound envelop you and change your mood as each wave of color washes over you. Or, simply gain a new perspective in a mind-bending installation that makes you and your friends shrink and grow before your eyes.
The Hopscotch staff is stellar, engaging and informing while not intruding on your experience. Their guidance is terrific in making the most of your time with each installation. And no, there’s no time limit to how long you can stay with each installation. You are, however, sharing the space with others. We never felt rushed as everyone seemed to be in it together, creating the shared experience that Hopscotch is based on.
Wondering if Hopscotch is something you can safely enjoy during our “new normal,” a phrase we’re ready to kick to the curb along with the year that inspired it? Hopscotch opened in the midst of COVID, so to make sure the experience is safe for both staff and guests, they have checked all of the boxes, including mandatory masks and temperature checks, as well as limited venue hours and strict capacity limits. Venue hours are also 18 and up after 7pm.
Hopscotch offers three-hour complimentary parking in the Travis Park Plaza Garage, making it an ideal starting point to see the rest of what downtown San Antonio has to offer. Follow Hopscotch’s oft-repeated advice to “Experiences > Things,” and dive in. Make Hopscotch your destination, then adventure further and enjoy the San Antonio River Walk. Roam and explore San Antonio’s growing public artworks collection, with more pieces and murals dotting the downtown landscape thanks to efforts including Centro San Antonio’s Art Everywhere initiative. You never know where the right rabbit hole might take you, but with Hopscotch as your guide, it’s sure to be an adventure.
Cover: Matt Elson’s “Infinity Boxes.” Photo courtesy Hopscotch
An award-winning writer and communications expert who runs Tale to Tell Communications, Dawn Robinette loves to tell stories about her adopted hometown of San Antonio. A regular contributor to Texas Lifestyle Magazine, you can read more of her work at Alamo City Moms, San Antonio Woman and Rio Magazine.