San Francisco is the land of adults who unapologetically act like children. Skateboard commuters. Urban Putt boozy indoor golf. Naked people strutting down the street in broad daylight with no apparent agenda. It can be a shocking, delightful reminder that this city is truly a destination for everyone—even while one-bedroom apartments continue to rent at $3K a month.
So when the pop-up art exhibit, Color Factory, came to town, it sold out quickly. With 15 interactive “color” experiences, I was intrigued, but never considered going after hearing tickets were selling second-hand on Craigslist for $175 a piece. But things took a turn, a ticket came my way and I was excited to weigh the world’s hype against my own skepticism.
It all starts with a boisterous attendant encouraging all visitors to enter their name and email address into an iPad display to get a personalized plastic card that will be used throughout the exhibit. I didn’t think twice about giving them my personal information—the request was shrouded in fun. The diversion was just beginning.
After a quick stop at the scratch and sniff wall, and a treat from a rotating conveyor belt courtesy of Craftsman and Wolves, we headed to the orange room. It was packed with, you guessed it, lots of orange stuff. And it was cool. There were no heady artist statements, just a world of Cheeto-colored objects organized neatly. My brain waves began to subside even further as I snapped a bunch of pictures.
The blue balloon room followed—brought to me by…Alaska Airlines? Even in my mentally relaxed state, I started to connect a few dots. Somewhere between the social media-fueled Instagram frenzy, big brands’ financing and the “limited” availability of tickets, I started to understand why Color Factory had grown into a must-attend event. And the fact that it was easy to like made it even more buzzworthy.
As we made our way, I completely let myself go (as much as any Midwesterner can, at least). I wrote my name on a wall with a three-foot marker, I threw confetti into the air in the Method room, I jumped headfirst into a pit filled with yellow balls and even browsed the gift shop filled with over-priced, yellow merchandise. The subtle mix of art and commerce was working. I’d been sucked in and I really didn’t know why.
Conclusion? In terms of putting smiles on peoples’ faces, Color Factory was a hit. While it wasn’t a deep experience, it was tactile, interactive and, most important, entertaining. And as someone who works day in and day out trying to make impressions, I’d have to say the whole thing was extremely well done. Bravo to the artists and their sponsors.