Santa Fe Meow Wolf Art Collective – counted Game of Thrones writer George RR Martin as one of the creative contributors and financial backers – launching Omega Mart inside the 15th area of Las Vegas, an experiential retail and entertainment complex, on February 18.
Omega Mart is a theater stage, immersive art experience that includes 250 unique projects, invites discovery, showcases the contributions of more than 325 art, music and digital creators, including featuring artists Alex and Allyson Grey, known for the Chapel of the Sacred Mirror; musician Brian Eno; the pop group Beach House; and singer Santaigold.
“This is the culmination of 13 years working as a team and a giant leap forward in our work,” said Corvas Brinkerhoff, Meow Wolf co-founder and executive creative director of Meow Wolf Las Vegas. me from the first project.
Meow Wolf is a multidisciplinary group of artists and innovators – writers, painters, sculptors, actors, lighting designers, musicians, etc. – featuring its first permanent exhibition, The House of Life back to eternity, inside a bowling alley formerly owned by Martin, opened in 2016 in Santa Fe and has attracted more than 2 million visitors.
“Creating our work collaboratively gave us the leverage to make these things bigger and more exciting than anything we could have done alone,” says Brinkerhoff.
What is Omega Mart?
Omega Mart, which claims to be “America’s Most Extraordinary Grocery,” has hundreds of custom-made surreal products – all for sale – such as “Lil Meow” Gruel for Cats in Pigeon Mousse, Mammoth Chunks, Organic Moth Milk and Camel’s Dream of Mushroom Soup. The 52,000 square foot space – more than double the size of the Santa Fe site – took three and a half years to create.
“Omega Mart, is the name of the room where the exhibition begins and also the name of the entire exhibit, but there are many things beyond this room,” said Brinkerhoff. “The other side is another world. And that’s where all the different artists from all over the world are showcased. “
Through the various “portals” in this maximalist and psychedelic grocery store – such as cold drink dispensers and camping screens – audiences enter what the creators call is a parallel dimension with four vast spaces and 60 other unique environments.
“We have a core team that we work with on every project. But the other half are local Las Vegas artists and artists from all over the world, all curated for this exhibition,” said Brinkerhoff. “When we go to a city, we feel like we have to really work hard to connect with that local artist community.”
Audiences are led through a transformative story guided by images, sound, movies, and interactive digital content, all layered into multidimensional art. Video content – the length of three feature films – is integrated throughout.
What exactly is going on at Omega Mart?
The plot of the new artistic experience focuses on a mythical energy, known as the Source. Grocery store Omega Mart found a way to take Origin and include it in their products, and they sell them to the US, Brinkerhoff explained.
Visitors can follow the plot of DramCorp, the giant corporation behind Omega Mart, which has entered this parallel dimension, taking over parts of the desert, as well as that of the three sisters leading the resistance to invasion. enter this. Search for clues to what’s going on inside the exhibits, rooms and installations teeming with installations, or choose your own adventure – whatever happens.
“There are all these different characters living in the desert, and you can learn their backstory about colonialism and environmental management,” he said. “We’re basically trying to create this layer of experience, the kind of quality and depth of experience that everyone gets, no matter how deeply they dive into the narrative. Our North Star is always ‘interesting.’ Is this something that will inspire and engage people? That’s where we start and then for those who want to dig deeper into it, there’s something there for them to find. But otherwise, it’s still beautiful, inspiring, and leaves a really strong impression on you.”
The authenticity and accessibility of the Meow Wolf experience is a response to the skepticism and winging in the contemporary art world, which Brinkerhoff says the collective is working to undo. “It’s a bridge to audiences who don’t necessarily spend a lot of time going to galleries or museums,” he said. “We felt there was a fundamental human drive and a desire to experience the visual arts. And right now, the state of the contemporary art world is alien to most people. We are trying to create a bridge for more people to participate in the arts.”
Why Las Vegas?
The late head of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, initially flirted with Meow Wolf to get to downtown Las Vegas. “For a good year, we were pretty sure we were going to get something done there and then it worked out,” says Brinkerhoff.
But the seed was sown and the collective fell in love with the city’s possibilities. “We felt there was a really great opportunity here to create something that could help catalyze an existing underserved art scene. And it’s super vibrant,” he said. “There are a lot of super power creators in the city. And we feel there’s something really exciting and compelling about being able to connect with the international audience that comes to Las Vegas. “
The role of George RR Martin
The Game of Thrones creator advice on how to build the story and vision for the world of Meow Wolf.
“Think of it like the Marvel Universe,” Brinkerhoff said. “There are different characters and sagas but they all exist in this shared universe that is the connective tissue between all the different shows we’re developing.”
Forecast for 2021
Omega Mart is expected to welcome around 1 million visitors per year post-pandemic – as of now, attendance will be limited in line with state guidelines. “If you count the space vertically, it’s actually seven times bigger [than Santa Fe] — as a designer, it’s an incredible experience designing at this size,” said Brinkerhoff, noting the eventual expansion plans. “In fact, we have another 12,000 square feet that are still unopened.” Additionally, Meow Wolf will open another permanent installation in Denver later this year.
This story first appeared in the February 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.
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