In a city that offers numerous ways to interact with art—from technicolor murals to breathtaking museum displays—it may come as a surprise to learn that one of the most exciting art experiences in the Portland area right now is Goose Cube: a psychedelic, immersive exhibition hiding in plain sight. The location? A nondescript home nestled in a quiet Lake Oswego neighborhood.
Built by Steven Ochs, a self-described “outsider artist,” Goose Cube: The Portal is, first and foremost, a house. But unlike the other dwellings that line the surrounding blocks, it’s a collection of trippy portals arranged as though the single-story, ranch-style residence were a spacious gallery.
The experience is on par with such world-class museums as Meow Wolf and Hopscotch, but here you can stay the night. Great for families or a small group of friends for a weekend getaway, the venue is also perfect for adults who yearn to walk through immersive art venues while riding a psychedelic high but would rather not be tripping balls in public.
For less than the price of a luxury hotel suite, you can spend an evening at Goose Cube responsibly astro-traveling without ever venturing beyond its simultaneously sensorially exciting and soothing walls. Although guests are welcome to; the outdoor patio and garden are both lovely and cannabis friendly.
While getting high and geeking out on interactive art in Lake Oswego was not on my 2023 bingo card, by the end of my visit, it was clear that Goose Cube is rewriting the playbook for staycations, vacation rentals, and tourism in insular bedroom communities. Here’s how our experience shook out:
Portal One: Arrival
After crossing the threshold, I was greeted by a tiled anteroom with a shoe cubby and a desk. On the desk was a sign instructing me to activate the home’s computer by voice command, which was followed by a brief monologue about how to navigate the space delivered by the device.
The first portal—the living/media room—featured cushioned, rippling walls, which offered at least half-a-dozen ways to lounge and stare at the ceiling, where cat videos or hypnotizing patterns played on a loop. There was also an intimate nook with what looked like a mirror, but it was actually an iridescent piece of art whose scalelike pattern is repeated on consoles holding a large flat-screen TV and potted plants (it is a home, after all). Above a midcentury-style davenport I discovered an installation hanging from the ceiling: a room in miniature that guests must interact with (no spoilers) headfirst.
As I exited the living room and entered the dining area, behind me was the face of a cartoon space cat also covered in those shimmering scales, and I began to realize that the ripples I was just crawling around on were its innards. More art covered the walls as I made my way through the kitchen toward the three bedrooms. The primary suite at the end of the hallway contained a faux fur-covered cube. Inside was a disorienting (yet stunning) infinity room completely surrounded by mirrors.
A door behind the cube led to the sculpture-decorated patio. After smoking a big backyard joint, I headed back inside to prep some mushrooms for a proper immersive art experience.
Portal Two: To Infinity and Beyond
After lemon tekking (soaking crushed shrooms in lemon juice to make them easier to digest) about 3 grams of Golden Teacher psilocybin mushrooms for about 30 minutes, I connected to the home’s Bluetooth, told the computer to start my favorite playlist, and then danced down the hall toward the chamber of mirrors.
As breathtaking as I found Space Cat, Ochs’ infinity room, or the Portal Interdimensional Travel Device, is really the centerpiece of Goose Cube. At face value, it’s a fun novelty, but ask the home’s computer to tell the piece’s origin story and this becomes much more significant than an Instagram-worthy backdrop. Knowledge about Ochs’ work with multiverse theory helps bring context to the portal, and while taking the 5-minute ride down this rabbit hole via computer narration, visitors have the chance to explore parallel universes and emerge as an entirely different version of themselves.
Portal Three: Transformation
Whether or not guests use Goose Cube as an adult recreational playspace, a family-friendly getaway, or a therapeutic retreat, the bottom line is that the experience offers a new model for both immersive experimental art displays and contemporary luxury accommodations. Ochs’ work is whimsically exuberant while also encouraging deep introspection. And because powerful art can be transformative, my trip to Goose Cube was just that, regardless of the psychotropics.