Rainbow Cave by Brooklyn based artist Basia Goszczynska, is one of the large interactive installations to be featured at Hopscotch.

Billed as a hub for immersive and experiential art, Hopscotch, the newest addition to San Antonio’s art landscape, will open its doors Friday.

The project, which has been in the works for nearly two years, enjoyed a trial run of sorts in spring 2019, when it opened as a pop-up in a former outlet store in Austin. Now the entirely reimagined 20,000-square-foot space inside the Travis Park Plaza Building downtown will be Hopscotch’s permanent home. 

Founders Nicole Jensen and Hunter Inman had originally targeted late 2019 for the opening, after the Austin test run and a summer call for inventive proposals. The opening, however, was slowed by the fine details of big-time real estate, the enormity of the task of transforming such a large space, and the coronavirus pandemic. 

Jensen and Inman conceived the idea for this unique space in response to what they perceived as an unmet need “on the artist side and on the consumer side” with regards to large scale immersive art installations.

Hopscotch looks to carve a niche for itself that sits somewhere between some of this region’s smaller, more experimental art galleries and its larger art institutions – offering freedom to artists like the former and abundant space for execution like the latter.

The space will open Oct. 2 with 14 large and distinct installations featuring the work of more than 40 local, national and international artists. Precautions like limited admittance, mandatory face masks, and entry point temperature checks will be in place. 

Admission to the installations requires the purchase of a timed ticket, but the bar and lounge area and gift shop at Hopscotch are non-ticketed areas.

As curator, Jensen said she wants to be “very intentional about every aspect of the space,” hoping to provide markedly distinct experiences from one installation to the next.

“Experiences are more important than things,” said Jensen, offering what has become a sort of mantra for the project.

“We loved, at the Austin show, when something that was one person’s favorite was another person’s least favorite,” Jensen said. “We feel like if we aren’t doing that then we aren’t pushing boundaries enough and we’re not giving enough variety.”

Jensen sees Hopscotch as a way to bring in new art and artists to San Antonio while also supporting art in the community.

Basia Goszczynska, a Brooklyn based artist, contributed a huge, walk-in installation called “Rainbow Cave.”

Much like its name suggests, the installation is a manufactured cave, fitted with an armature of salvaged fishing nets holding up around 40,000 post-industrial waste plastic bags. Much of the striking effect of walking into the “Rainbow Cave” is created via the shrewd use of colorful soundscaping, LED lighting, and a large mirror.

Goszczynska, who works in a variety of scales and media, said that this is the third incarnation of the “Rainbow Cave,” with the first still on display in New York City at Arcadia Earth and the second a temporary installation erected in Miami as a part of 2019’s Art Basel Miami Beach. She’s fascinated by the “magical aspect” of working with large, immersive installations.

The hope for Goszczynska is that visitors will feel transported to a strange alternate world, but one that nevertheless may call them to reflect on our world. Specifically, Goszczynska hopes viewers will feel called to reflect on nature as both refuge and threat, and on our relationship to the Earth with regard to technological innovation.

Goszczynska is eager to experience Hopscotch in its final form. She’s thrilled at the notion that the space can be “more of a social hangout than a place you go quietly … a place for community building.”

Shek Vega, local artist, member of mural group Los Otros, and founder of the nonprofit San Antonio Street Art Initiative (SASAI), contributed a mural to the bar area with Los Otros and helped curate an installation of SASAI artists work called “Walls Within.”

The lounge at Hopscotch features a large Los Otros mural that responds to the colorful furniture and bar area. Credit: Courtesy / Hopscotch

He’s pleased by how the project has included the local art community and excited to see the space come to life. He considers Hopscotch to be “just the kind of thing that downtown San Antonio needs.”

James Courtney is a freelance arts and culture journalist in San Antonio. He also is a poet, a high school English teacher and debate coach, and a proud girl dad.