Other than their successful Kickstarter campaign and a gala fundraising event at the Scottish Rite Temple, local arts collective Meow Wolf has been relatively quiet of late (the key word here being "relatively"). This isn't to say they aren't busy down Siler Road, in their new George RR Martin-approved space within the former Silva Lanes bowling alley; quite the opposite, actually. The artists, musicians, politicians, friends, volunteers and various hangers-on have been working tirelessly to construct the new artists' studio spaces, a rumored video arcade, the Victorian-era-inspired installation that'll become The House of Eternal Return and, most exciting to a guy like me who simply doesn't get art (joke)—the music performance space. With the physical space being designed by local artist Matt King and the sound by beloved musician Ben Wright, things are looking awfully exciting.
"The stage area will be designed as a part of the larger show and will function as this crazy environment where people can walk around and see the art, but also be a part of whatever show," Meow Wolf's lead graphic designer and the always-cool DJ Dirt Girl, Emily Montoya, says. "It's kind of like one of those Brazilian favelas with shanties stacked up on one another and will also be fully equipped for doing shows."
The shanty town-like space will serve as an interactive, fully explorable section of the overall installation and will allow visitors to climb and crawl through the various structures, which could potentially serve to create one-of-a-kind experiences within the live music milieu.
"I think there is the possibility that people will get that once-in-a-lifetime experience," fellow Meow Wolfer Megan Burns, aka flamingo pink, says. "The way the entire installation is being designed is with sections of the art that can double as other spaces."
Certainly Meow Wolf has long been known for its forays into live music, but both Montoya and Burns point out that the musical offerings that take place within the new space will begin to take on a higher level of priority within the collective's infrastructure.
"As we've talked about it, we definitely want it to become a destination and super-weird venue that will attract people and artists who wouldn't normally come through Santa Fe," Montoya says. "The cool thing is that with the rest of the space and the installations, we won't have to rely solely on the revenue from ticket sales to put on shows that are a lot cooler and better put-together."
Additionally, the parking lot of the new space could provide outdoor music opportunities as well as already-announced food trucks and planned art/sculpture exhibits. It all points toward the new-ish trendification of the area, alongside other outfits such as Duel Brewing and High Mayhem. And though concerns like gentrification or higher rent are always at play when neighborhoods become suddenly popular, most of the area is not residential…yet.
"I lived [there] in 2006 and always thought it would be so cool if it became this art zone, and there is all this stuff coming up down there now," artist Benji Geary says. "And it's a mostly industrial area, so even with new opportunities, it's not as dramatic as pushing out seventh-generation families or anything."
All involved were fairly tight-lipped, but Wright did let slip there may be other, more interactive audio surprises found throughout Eternal Return.
"There will be a self-generating composition of randomized audio clips from myself and an array of other hyper-capable local musicians," Wright, who is Meow Wolf's musical director, tells SFR. "This will serve as the global sound design and will feature interactive elements such as laser triggers, touch-sensitive fabric, drum pads and other unusual objects transformed to control processing."
The house itself might also open up to locally curated events, wherein each room could play host to a different style of music.
"We've always thought of art and music as two sides of the same coin…where performer and audience become blurred," Montoya says. "That's something we really want to push in the new space."
Keep in mind that all-ages is very important for Meow Wolf, and other than certain special occasions, booze will not be available. Thank God Duel Brewing is nearby, then, because how else would y'all keep it drunk? Regardless, good things will happen. After all, the people in charge of actually making the art and music down there are a bunch of geniuses.