Even out in Kansas City, I've been hearing about Meow Wolf in Santa Fe for several months; the vague impression that I got from article skimming and following it on social media was that it was somewhere between a wild, psychedelic dream and a crazy interactive funhouse - one that also hosts smaller concerts including ones from Deerhunter, Neon Indian, Strand of Oaks, and many more, right in the middle of its freaky self.
A little backstory: after being introduced to the Meow Wolf art collective and learning about its mission to find a larger space to carry out its vision, George R.R. Martin (yes, Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin - he lives in Santa Fe and already has reinvigorated the DeVargas movie theater) leased the old cigarette-drenched Cerrillos Road bowling alley that I frequented while in high school, putting in $2.5 million of his own money in renovations, on top of the expense of the lease. This work helped the collective get into the space and attract more investors. Two years of work and well over 130 artists, carpenters and other makers later, Meow Wolf opened last spring. It's an incredibly welcome addition to Santa Fe's sorta stodgy and heavily traditional art scene - and the reception has been effusively good.
The main attraction is the "House of Eternal Return" - the funhouse. You can experience it whichever way that you like, but the general conceit is that you enter what appears to be a conventional Victorian house, once inhabited by the Selig family. They have mysteriously disappeared, leaving all sorts of clues in their house, from mail affixed with a magnet to their refrigerator, to unfinished artwork by the window, notes, letters, newspapers and more, including objects left in drawers throughout the house. You could spend a couple of hours attempting to figure out what happened to them - but what is immediately apparent is that whatever it is is supernatural.
The Seligs' house is some kind of interdimensional portal: go through the fireplace, the washing machine or the fridge into different 'dimensions,' entirely different environments bathed in neon, fabrics of all different textures, giant wooly mammoths whose bones are also instruments - it is wildly imaginative, and like nothing like you've ever seen. The exhibit is an astrounding 20,000 square feet of highly interactive and visually stunning eye candy. My mom and I left the Selig mystery for another day just to marvel at the wild colors, sensory objects, tunnels and staircases, and just marveled at the work and utter delightful weirdness of the place.
My mom, by the way, approached Meow Wolf with some real skepticism (especially after seeing a line for tickets - is it worth it, she asked me), but ultimately she couldn't help but enjoy herself. We kept thinking we might be ready to leave, then discovered new room after new room of delightful weirdness - like the fridge that opens and leads you to 'Bermuda - gateway to the multiverse.'
If you can, go, and go again - this is an odd, very special place that found the right super rich, fellow-oddball novelist at just the right time. There is nothing out there like it.