2018, We Loved You

Looking back at a year of big dreams, unprecedented expansion and new community ties.
by Alison Gamache
Dec 28, 2018

With 2018 coming to a close and the new year just around the corner, ‘tis the season for reflection. People are looking back: dissecting the trials and tribulations, the changes and challenges, the shortcomings and successes, while simultaneously looking ahead to 2019. How will this new start to the yearly clock further the tremendous groundwork we’ve laid?

When it comes to annual retrospection, Meow Wolf is no different.

Expansion

2018 was a colossal year for our company. We announced moves into new markets. We expanded our once small and intimate art collective to 425 employees. We took on projects that years ago we could’ve only imagined and saw far-off goals actualized by a whirlwind of hard work and support from our hometown and fans. 

The first wall of Meow Wolf Las Vegas going up at Area 15, our future home. Photo by Laurent Velzaquez.

For us, the most electrifying part of the year was announcing our two new exhibitions — opening in Las Vegas late 2019, Denver 2020 and most recently announced, Washington D.C. in 2022.

Washington D.C.

We hit the ground running, hiring countless creatives, developing a corporate responsibility plan, and working hard to thoughtfully and carefully reach out to the residents and artists in our new hometowns.

Bianca Mikahn speaking at the Meow Wolf’s Corporate Social Responsibility presentation at the Steam in Denver, CO. Photo by Kate Russell.

One of our most important initiatives has been creating a Community Advisory Committee for Denver. This ensures a more seamless integration, taking into account the needs of the long-standing community that we’re joining in the Sun Valley neighborhood. The careful planning and hard work of this committee now informs and leads the way for new locations in the future. As a company that wholeheartedly has the best interests in mind for artists, locals, and guests, it was a huge step for us to look deep into ourselves and ask: Are we doing all we can? Then dig in and do more. 

The Premiere of “Meow Wolf: Origin Story” at SXSW 2018, The Vimeo Theater. Photo by Kate Russell.
The Immersive premiere of “Meow Wolf: Origin Story” at House of Yes in NYC, November 15th, 2018. Photo by Kate Russell.

The Silver Screen 

This was also the year we gulp—released our personal saga in Meow Wolf: Origin Story, which premiered at South by Southwest along with an award-winning Virtual Reality experience that spun off a storyline from our House of Eternal Return exhibition. We also got to throw meow-style parties in Austin and take over the city with our first-ever scavenger hunt. The SXSW takeover as a whole was a success, winning us the Spirit of SXSW Award, but even then we did not dream that our documentary would go on to release in theaters in 49 states.

We also announced our partnership with Magic Leap, who’s taking augmented reality to the next level, and launched our space exploration mech at their L.E.A.P conference.

Meow Wolf and Magnopus bring the Navigator to the Magic Leap conference in Los Angeles. Photo by Kate Russell.

Back home in Santa Fe, we made upgrades and new installations in House of Eternal Return. We built an App called the Anomaly Tracker. We created an Audio Tour for an insider’s look behind the exhibits guided by the artists who made them.

Meow Wolf’s Anomaly Tracker reveals AR secrets within the “House of Eternal Return” in Santa Fe.
The stage illuminated at Taos Vortex, August 2018.

Collaboration

Meanwhile, we stepped up our music game a notch or two (a far cry from the days when anyone could book a gig in our old warehouse). Taos Vortex was our first large-scale music festival, with headliners like The Flaming Lips, Thievery Corporation, Dr. Dog, and Emancipator Ensemble joining thousands of fans in the foothills of the high desert. We also collaborated with Wayne Coyne, frontman of The Flaming Lips, to install his interactive art exhibit, King’s Mouth, which swallowed visitors into a surrealist and squishy light experience in our lobby. Finally, we produced some of our first music videos with artists we truly admire, with critics calling the video for “How Is This Happening” by Polica “haunting” and “psychedelic”.

Wayne Coyne’s King’s Mouth, installed at Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe. Students from Northland College in Ashland, WI some of the first to experience the King’s Mouth in Santa Fe. Photo by Kate Russell.

 

Behind the scenes on the set of Sylvan Esso’s music video “PARAD(w/m)E,” produced by Meow Wolf. Photo by Lindsey Kennedy.

In fact, we’re hoping to shake things up a bit in the entertainment industry, with weird music videos, animations, TV series, feature films, and — coming soon — a live feed of our inner workings. Meow Wolf Entertainment built out a sweet filming and editing studio a few blocks from our Santa Fe exhibition and is drawing talent from around the nation. Check out our growing music video collection – from a post-apocalyptic candy run with Sylvan Esso to a Mastodon rib-banging, tambourine-shaking good time with TacoCat.

Local glory was ours to be had, including a livestream and party to celebrate our hometown’s totally strange and awesome custom of burning a giant marionette named Zozobra. He went up in flames carrying away the ills of our city just as summer shifted into fall. Internationally, we made waves with Score Wars, a gaming tournament for Galaga competitors from around the world, with the pro-level winner taking home a $10K prize. We documented some historic wins on a livestream that spanned the whole weekend competition.

From our stage to neighboring states, from city-wide events to retouching the finest details of our handmade exhibition, none of this could have been accomplished without the many minds of our rapidly expanding team. We were honored, as a group, to receive New Mexico’s 45th annual Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts

Meow Wolf’s Live stream production of The 2018 Burning of Zozobra in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

2018, we did love you — and it’s with ambitious goals and a somewhat breakneck, but joyful, pace that we dive together into the New Year.