February 19, 2016
Getting Ready for Meow Wolf
Santa Fe New Mexican, 02/18/2016

Getting Ready for Meow Wolf
Santa Fe New Mexican, 02/18/2016

In less than a month, Santa Fe — and eventually the world — will be able to see what all the fuss is about in the old bowling alley. A giant robot and a tarantula dominate the parking lot (and, yes, the bowling pin is still there, too).

Inside, a mysterious Victorian house, a forest and a bus pointing up are just some of what’s on display. The House of Eternal Return, by the art collective Meow Wolf, will have to be seen to be believed.

Gala opening day is March 17, with the general public welcome on March 18. To be ready, the hundreds of volunteers and the paid workers building the exhibit are working nonstop. It’s an interactive exhibit — lights, sound, music — that can be enjoyed on repeat visits (thus, the decision by Meow Wolf to sell lifetime passes and annual memberships). To exhibitgoers, the visit is along the lines of becoming a character in a video game, with the story changing depending on the choices made as the tale of the family inside the house unfolds (complete with wormholes and alternative realities).

More than an arts exhibit, the Meow Wolf Arts Complex also has become a small-business engine, employing some 135 people during construction, a number that should hover around 45 once it is open. There will be sales online and in a gift shop of products invented and created by members of the Meow Wolf arts collective. There’s an educational component, so that the joy of creating can be shared with children in classes both at the complex and in schools.

Most intriguing, we believe, is the idea of using art as a place to gather community, with space at the complex for people to use expensive equipment they can’t buy for themselves to make prints or fire sculpture. For a fee — just like a gym — artists will be able to rent space and work, without having to invest heavily. Nonprofit Make Santa Fe and Meow Wolf are teaming up to make this possible. There will be 3-D printers, laser cutters and other high-tech equipment, as well as a ceramics studio and neon work space.

Where it all goes, who knows? The building, formerly Silva Lanes, was purchased by author George R.R. Martin, who also contributed to making the renovations possible. The city of Santa Fe donated $50,000 and the entrepreneurs at Meow Wolf raised more than $100,000 with a Kickstarter campaign. Now, people have to show up and share the vision, enjoying what has been described as a combination “jungle gym, haunted house, children’s museum and an immersive art exhibit. This unique fusion of art and entertainment gives audiences fictional worlds to explore.”

This Friday, there’s an eighth birthday show for the arts collective at the David Richard Gallery. Happy Birthday Meow Wolf! celebrates both an anniversary and the group’s creative force, with works by Meow Wolf’s artists on display. A portion of sales will benefit both the artists and the collective’s activities. (Opening reception is 5 to 8 p.m. at the gallery, 1570 Pacheco St., Suite A1, with the show up through March 5.)

After the celebration, we’re sure it will be back to the grindstone as Meow Wolf and its CEO, Vince Kadlubek, as well as all the artists and workers, return to work on their grand exhibition. With the opening of The House of Eternal Return, Santa Fe’s art scene, its economy — and its fun factor — will get a boost. We can’t wait to see the finished product.

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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