I feel really guilty admitting this, but I have to come clean... Before this weekend, I had never been to Meow Wolf. I know, I know, 40 lashes with a wet noodle. Whatever. I remedied my ignorance this weekend by taking a swing through Indoor Winter Activities
For those of you who live underground, Meow Wolf
(1800 Hopewell St., at the corner of Hopewell and Second Streets) is arguably Santa Fe's most popular cooperative of young, creative, bursting-at-the-seams-with-ideas artists. Every few months they come out with some new sort of art installation project. Okay, "installation" isn't exactly the right word. A more accurate description would be that they completely overtake their space in enthusiastic mixed-media exuberance and transform a rickety warehouse into a wonderland of insanity.
In addition to the art shows, Meow Wolf hosts musical performances. Audience members sit on the concrete floor, in vintage wheelchairs and on dusty old couches in the room adjacent to the art exhibit.
Below the jump are a few more happy babblings about the show, as well as more pictures of the installations.
I'm not entirely sure why I hadn't been to Meow Wolf yet. There were a number of shows that I'd really wanted to go to - namely, their Halloween show, which was apparently so scary that it actually came with a disclaimer that it was "view at your own risk" - but I'd somehow never made it.
If there's anyone reading this who is in the same place as I was - the whole "I dunno, I just haven't been there yet man, I dunno why dude" thing - GET OVER IT. Not only is the art in this show amazing, but it encompasses absolutely every last inch of the space to make for a show that, at times, makes you crawl around on the floor
to see every last bit of the installation. Under tables, inside little plywood houses, underneath bookcases - be sure to look anywhere they could have shoved little crafted items. One particular piece is a painted dresser; when you open its drawers, inside are little mummified rodents sprinkled with powdered pigment, dry little dead bugs and jewelry boxes full of almost-unidentifiable fur. I'm telling you, you have to look in every last corner.
The centerpiece of the room is a huge altar, above which floats a human form made out of clear packing tape, sitting serenely cross-legged above a glowing light. Around the table are arranged stones, crystals, candles, twigs and other items that somehow get past the woo-woo aspect of an altar to the natural world and enter the realm of calming, comforting groundedness.
While there is something to be said for the sheer hugeness of the exhibit, it's easy to cover the walls in paint and drape yarn from every corner and call it art. Sometimes installations like this can lack skill, can lack true talent. That is not the case here. Where there are paintings, they are intricate and finely executed. The tape-people are absolutely fascinating; and they're everywhere, climbing ladders, laying in the garden, floating in the air. Some of the most incredible pieces were the mobiles (I counted at least four). Hundreds of dead bees tied to fishing line hung from the spokes of old bicycle wheels. Honeycombs and twigs floated around slowly with the spin of the wire structure to which they were tied. A conglomeration of seemingly hundreds of keys dangled from the ceiling. I could hardly imagine the time invested.
Part of my love for this exhibit in particular could be that, when I was a kid, I was constantly
tacking blankets to the walls to form tents and pulling furniture into awkward positions to create little playhouses. I would decorate the walls with pictures cut out of Dog Fancy magazines and photocopied from horse encyclopedias. I loved these little contained biospheres of creativity - they were hidden, they were secret, and they were all mine. I could create little habitats for my stuffed animals and no one knew about it but me.
That's kind of what this show made me feel again. There were these little places tucked away under staircases, under tables, behind pieces of plywood. I can imagine the artists crafting them with the same kind of loving care with which I created my little secret playhouses. The only difference is that at Meow Wolf, the artists have given their secret places away, letting others look in, allowing the rest of the world to see what used to be held safe within their head. It takes bravery, and it takes trust; and, in the end, I like to think they can give their secrets to me with infinite faith, and that I will not let them down.