The Dallas Morning News
A picture is worth a thousand words
Two new, and very different, immersive art spots are Instagram-ready
Candytopia, a new installation in Dallas, is a sugar rush on steroids. It sends its visitors on an ultrasensory trip straight out of a Willy Wonka dream, then leaves them blinking outside in the sunlight, sucking on a lollipop and wondering how they’re going to describe this to their friends.
But the answer is obvious: Instagram. Faster than they can count down from five before a confetti cannon blasts them in the face (and that really happens), Dallasites’ Instagram feeds are about to be jammed with Candytopia capers.
Candytopia is but one of many immersive art spaces — a controversial topic among Dallasites. While all offer moments to make Instagram followers jealous, they also tend to be expensive and overconfident.
“Some of these pop-ups feature installations that are more like glorified J.C. Penney photo backdrops than compelling works of art,” former Guidelive writer Tiney Ricciardi wrote in a story analyzing the trend. Some of the immersive art spots that have come before Candytopia in Dallas are Psychedelic Robot, Eye Scream Wasted and Sweet Tooth Hotel (which is opening its third iteration soon).
Another immersive space, Snap151, opened in Dallas on the same day Candytopia did: April 5. But these two places are nothing alike.
Snap151 is a photo studio built temporarily inside a former American Apparel clothing store in Mockingbird Station. It’s a 4,500-square-foot room, mostly empty beyond the 10 Instagram backdrops that owners Audrey Miranda and Dawn Snodgrass have constructed after lots of trips to Home Depot. The two launched Snap151 first in Fort Worth, then moved it to Dallas and expect to close in six weeks and head out of state next.
They expect boutique owners, Instagram models, birthday parties and couples announcing engagements will pay the ticket price ($20 for adults, $12 for ages 3 and under) to spend an hour using their space for photo shoots. It’s not so much a walk-through experience as it is a place to play on Instagram.
Snap151 even kept American Apparel’s dressing rooms, because guests often want to take a series of photos, in different outfits, so they can post them on Instagram on different days and make the shoots look like they took place over time.
“When we came up with this, it wasn’t from an art or ‘Instagram museum’ perspective,” Miranda says. “It was a need to create a place for photo shoots.”
Candytopia is inside the shuttered eco-friendly home-improvement store Treehouse on Walnut Hill Lane. Throughout the big space, Candytopia co-founder Jackie Sorkin, co-founder John Goodman (not that John Goodman) and their team have created works of art made out of candy.
Sorkin’s full title is co-founder, creator and global candy artist, but she’s also known as the “candy queen.” Candytopia is filled with larger-thanlife sculptures of pigs, seahorses, sharks and more, and they’re all covered in real candy that you can touch. A favorite for Texans might be the unassuming Big Tex in the corner.
Squishy is the best word to describe these sculptures. Many are made with gummy bears, peach rings and other soft candy, and believe it or not, they’re not slathered in so much lacquer that they’re stiff. It’s a confusing, intriguing sensory experience, to reach out to touch a cute, candy-covered snail and find that those pieces bounce back a little. The jumpsuitwearing Candytopia docents (called Candytopians, but they’re more like less-creepy Oompa Loompas) tell their guests to touch anything.
Samples of candy are placed in most of the rooms, and by the end, visitors of all ages will be buzzing.
Dallas is Candytopia’s sixth popup, one that’s expected to pack up and leave Dallas in late July. These exhibits never seem to want to sit still.
Candytopia’s price is $30 for adults and $23 for kids, for a one-hour window. It’s pricey, but this place’s candy-coated pitch is bound to reel in plenty of Dallasites: Want to get plowed in the face with confetti, then stand in front of a carwash-size blowdryer to swirl hundreds of pieces of colored paper out of your hair? Want to see the Mona Lisa, without buying a plane ticket to Paris? Want to jump into a marshmallow pit the size of a swimming pool?
Unless you’re on a no-sugar diet, the answer’s yes. Candytopia is the definition of a guilty pleasure.
Candytopia is at 8021 Walnut Hill Lane (at Central Expressway, in the Hill shopping center), Dallas. candytopia.com.
Snap151 is at 5331 E. Mockingbird Lane (at Central Expressway, in Mockingbird Station), Dallas. snap151.com.