A Trip To Meow Wolf
Santa Fe, NM
Words & Photos by J. Picard
You've probably heard of Meow Wolf. Those two words are typically used in a sentence alongside words like "incredible," "psychedelic," "stunning" and "indescribable." I reflected on how to describe our experience as I picked up the pieces of my mind in a parking lot on a Sunday around sunset in Santa Fe, NM. "I have to tell people about this place. But how...?" My wife Carly, who had been encouraging the conversation to head south from Colorado suggested we go sit on the patio of a brewery just a few blocks away to collect ourselves. We sat across from one another sampling a variety of craft brews, laughing about the alternate reality that we had just crawled into and managed to crawl out of. We had been to a variety of art museums, music festivals, Burning Man... but this was something different. This was a complete playground for the mind, funded by none other than George R.R. Martin, creator of Game of Thrones. We bought the tickets, heightened our experience and walked down a dark hallway where we were greeted by a video letting us know that we were being watched. We opened the door and on the other side, "The House of Eternal Return."
We sauntered through the kitchen knowing full well that we would return to explore the room and headed upstairs past photos of the fictional family, who at the moment felt real, immersed in their home among their belongings. We passed a group of guests hard at work on some sort of puzzle on a computer. We entered a child's room that had bunk beds, art projects, toys, a model of a woolly mammoth and everything else that would be found in a kid's room. I glanced out the front window and the bright light of what appeared to be the moon glowed across my face. Carly was going through different items on a book shelf. It felt weird to be going through someone's room, but little did we know how weird it was about to get. I walked across the room and opened the closet door to reveal a magical land. I grabbed Carly's hand and pulled her in.
We exited the room and squeezed through a small crack into a small space with mirrors, lights and an upright piano. We continued down a dark hall until we realized that we were in a closet alongside hangers and shirts. We opened the door and re-entered the room in which we had just left through the bookcase. And though it felt like forever since we had been in that room, the people looked at us surprised as we exited the closet and then looked over their shoulders at the shelf. It was pure madness and we had yet to truly dive in. Across the hall we entered the bathroom. The floor rippled like waves of water. We glanced at the clawfoot tub and pulled back the curtain to nothing out of the ordinary. I opened the medicine cabinet to find a never ending hole.
We returned to the kitchen where Carly rummaged through the cupboards before opening the fridge, which shined an almost blinding white light. We walked into the appliance and the fridge door closed behind us. We made our way down a white hallway and into a room with a sign on the wall that read "Bermuda Portals, your gateway to the multiverse." It felt like a scene out of Star Trek or Star Wars. A hologram of a woman on a console in the center of the room directed us to room 4. We exited the room into a wrap around hallway and put our hand on a panel with a hand print, clearly marked to open a door. Through it was not room 4, the door opened and in we walked to a small glowing red room. Our eyes adjusted and we were standing in an outdoorscape with glowing blue cactus in front of a small camper trailer. We wandered in and sat at the table. In the windows were scenes of expansive deserts and arches. Carly turned the dial on the radio and the station playing in the camper changed.
Just when we thought we must have seen all there is to see we would find a door, a ladder or an opening to crawl through into a whole new world of chaos. In the middle of it all we found a four hundred person venue, surrounded by stimuli. We stumbled into a dark room with a smoke machine and lasers from floor to ceiling. We ran our hands through the lasers and they acted as a harp. After that we found an unmarked door that led us into a colorful room with animal heads constructed of colorful shapes hung on the wall. Just outside of that room we found an all white room with a giant white rabbit staring down at us from the upper corner of the room. We wandered inside of the rabbit and when we came out there was an older couple, maybe in their 70's or 80's with a cane and a walker smiling at us. It must have been crazy to live through all that they had lived through to end up at a place like Meow Wolf.
After poking around for a bit on the main floor, we made our way into the fridge and back to the portals where we explored additional rooms that we had missed prior and tried to paint as complete a picture of the experience for our minds. After another hour or so of discovery and enjoyable repetition, we returned to the gift shop, feeling out of it from all of the stimulation. We exited Meow Wolf and stood in the parking lot, catching the tail end of daylight and trying to sort our next move. No matter where the path lead from here: To the brewery, to our hotel, back to Colorado... It would definitely bring us back to Sante Fe's (and maybe the country's) most impressive immersive art dream. Stay tuned for Meow Wolf Las Vegas in 2019 and Meow Wolf Denver in 2020! In the meantime, head south to Santa Fe...