On November 8th, 2018 I finally got the opportunity to visit the famed Yayoi Kusama LOVE IS CALLING exhibition at the Tampa Museum of Art. Boy am I glad I waited! Not just any exhibition, LOVE IS CALLING is a self-contained, fully immersive room, and I quickly understood the long lines and need for a timed ticket. Kusama creates an experience for the viewer that engages the senses: the room is lined with reflective surfaces: the walls and ceiling with infinity mirrors and the floors with shiny black acrylic; life sized, color changing, polka dotted inflatable tubes protruding from the floor and ceiling like stalagmites and stalactites in a cave; and an audio recording of Kusama reciting the accompanying poem in her native Japanese.Courtesy of the Vinik Family Foundation, Kusama’s 2013 LOVE IS CALLING is one of her largest installation rooms, measuring at 14 ½ ‘ high, 28’ wide and 20’ deep, and unique with its auditory component. Philanthropist lender Penny Vinik explains why she selected the piece:

“We liked it because it’s very colorful and is also one of her largest rooms… it’s also the only one that includes her voice, which is a cool component.”

While the vivid colors and mirrors make for a seriously selfie-worthy experience, Kusama’s message, which English speaking visitors gather upon reading the translated poem after exiting the room, is actually quite deep. The patterns reflected with the infinity mirrors represent her love unending, even as loved ones die. Whew.

To round out the love-filled experience for visitors, the Tampa Museum of Art curated a complementary retrospective exhibit of Robert Indiana’s sculpture. You’re probably familiar with his giant, square format “LOVE” sculptures seen in cities across the globe. More than just LOVEs (in several languages, no less!), dozens of other works spanning his artistic career are on display through March 17, 2019. Catch both features while you can!

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