Meow Wolf How Game of Thrones Saved a DayGlo New Mexico Art

first_imgStay on target ‘Game of Thrones’ Targaryen Prequel Series Is Reportedly Coming to HBO‘Game of Thrones’ Star Kit Harington Joins Marvel’s &#… This shouldn’t be a controversial statement, but art is important. Even as the world descends into a global climate apocalypse and the limits of human cruelty are tested in new and different ways, the spirit must still be fed. And art is where the true triumphs of humanity will be judged — not in the resources we pulled from the Earth or the money we made, but the cultural creations that expressed our inner souls.But art is also hard to make a living from. If you’re not a superstar getting repped at Sotheby’s, you can toil in obscurity for a lifetime without a big break coming along. And that’s no reflection on your talents, but rather your ability to be in the right place at the right time and know the right people.The founders of art collective Meow Wolf felt like outsiders in the Santa Fe art scene. The New Mexico town is the third largest art market in the country, behind New York and Los Angeles. It boasts hundreds of galleries, a dozen museums and three huge summer art fairs. But the reigning power players are traditionally looking for stuff that’s pretty time-tested: Native American-inspired folk art, pastel desert landscapes, and unchallenging modernism. If you’re not mining those veins, making a living can be rough.That’s where Meow Wolf was born. A dozen artists founded the group in 2008, at first taking residence in an abandoned hair salon. They wanted to make art that was wildly outside the borders of the Santa Fe establishment. The name was one of many drawn at random from a hat, and their early projects captured that same anarchic spirit. Anybody who wanted to join could, and their ranks swelled to include painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers, writers and more. Members pooled money for places to live and collaborated on multi-disciplinary installation pieces.Meow Wolf’s early projects were scrappy, improvisational works using materials shoplifted and scavenged from dumpsters — painters would cover every wall, sculptors would install pieces, choreographers and performers would use the space in conjunction with bands. The ethos was always big, bright and bold.That freedom threatened to collapse Meow Wolf under its own weight until Vince Kadlubek eventually stepped in as the organization’s CEO. Knowing that the group was capable of bigger and better things, he worked to organize in a way that would let creativity flower but also support the organization moving forward. Over the next few years, they’d stage increasingly more ambitious and complex pieces all over the city. Soon the establishment took notice. In 2011, the Center for Contemporary Art approached the collective to create Due Return, a 5,000 square foot explorable ship from an alien dimension.And then they hooked up with Santa Fe’s most famous literary resident, the bushy-bearded author responsible for the Song of Ice and Fire series that would become one of HBO’s biggest hits of all time as Game of Thrones. With more money than he could spend, George R. R. Martin began taking steps to make Santa Fe the kind of town he wanted to hang out in.In 2013, he bought a destitute movie theater, the 128-seat Jean Cocteau, and hired Meow Wolf member Vince Kadlubek to handle marketing. The project went well — the Cocteau now hosts regular screenings of current and classic films, visiting author readings and a weekly game night — and Kadlubek and Martin developed a relationship strong enough that when he asked the author to spend $800,000 on an abandoned bowling alley, he agreed.A subsequent investment of nearly three million dollars would transform the building into the Meow Wolf Art Complex, a multi-use facility that offers studio space, educational facilities and exhibition areas.It also featured House Of Eternal Return, the group’s first permanent installation. A unique narrative and exploratory experience, the House replicates the infamous Selig mansion, where a strange experiment has torn the fabric of space and time apart, twisting the halls and rooms into fantastic new configurations. At 20,000 square feet, it’s an enormous construction that’s full of fascinating detail, and it’s all interactive and explorable. Climb through the fireplace to find yourself in an ice cave, or enter an alternate dimension where everything looks like a cel-shaded cartoon. Guides in white lab coats are present to offer suggestions, but it’s very much a self-guided tour that can captivate you for hours. This project took a staggering 135 artists to complete, and it shows. It’s ambitious, unique and quickly became an art world phenomenon half high art and half Choose Your Own Adventure.Over 400,000 people visited the House in the first year it was open, immediately vaulting Meow Wolf into the city’s upper echelon of arts organizations and inspiring the group to think even bigger. Not only are they expanding, but they’ve used their financial success to fund other art collectives all over the country.Now the whole strange tale is being told in Meow Wolf: Origin Story, a documentary by Jilann Spitzmiller and Morgan Capps that is in theaters now. Weaving together footage and interviews from the group’s history, it paints an unflinching portrait of the struggle to get a foothold and the impact that just one person can have. Even though some members get more screen time than others, it never loses sight of the fact that Meow Wolf was founded as and remains a collective, a group effort that wouldn’t be the same without the many different voices involved.The film also touches on the group’s future, which involves serious expansion. They’ve already broken ground on a huge complex in Denver at a projected cost of $50 million, a four-story structure that will feature all new creations and working space. Meow Wolf won’t be the first scrappy artistic group to employ the franchising model – think about the Blue Man Group, who started as a trio of friends marching in parades in New York’s Lower East Side and grew to an intercontinental performance troupe that was eventually acquired by Cirque du Soleil. It’s uncertain whether Meow Wolf will get to that level of ubiquity, but they sure seem willing to try.So the next time you get mad that The Winds Of Winter has been delayed again, consider this: as an antidote to the grim tidings of his fictional universe, George R. R. Martin has been working to make our real one that much more colorful and full of life. Not every art group in the country is going to be lucky enough to hook up with a millionaire patron to fund their dreams, but we’re lucky that at least one did. Long may Meow Wolf continue to howl. Or meow. Whatever.More on Can Now Recreate Famous Paintings With a 3D PrinterGerman Museum Exhibits the Art of BlockchainMove Over, Picasso: Robot Paintings Are Surprisingly Goodlast_img

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