Take a Detour into Meow Wolf’s Multiverse

All photos by Kate Russell, courtesy of Meow Wolf

Grandparents go there with their kids and grandkids. Tour buses full of Australians and New Zealanders, Japanese and Chinese (basically, people from all over the world and many of them shuttled in via the Road Scholar travel company) arrive almost daily. Locals return again and again. And hipsters, artists, techheads, nerds and outsiders of all stripes practically live (and work) there.

The “there” in this case being Meow Wolf, Santa Fe’s artistic version of the otherwise pure-science-focused Exploratorium of San Francisco. Only here what you get instead of an experiential science learning lab is an immersive science fiction art installation that encourages if not demands to be touched—and run through and around and tugged on, sat on and interacted with in almost every physical way possible.

Built in an old bowling alley, with help from Game of Thrones creator (and Santa Fe resident) George R.R. Martin, Meow Wolf is actually the name of the arts collective that oversees what is their performative coup de grace: their 20,000-square-foot House of Eternal Return, which they debuted as a fictionalized no-matter-where-you-go-there-you-are spaceship back in 2008, but which they updated and relaunched in their current permanent space last spring as a kind of time-travel-y home to the Seligs, an imaginary Swiss Robinson-like family of space explorers. (A family who up and disappeared, and whose mysterious disappearance, mid-supper, so it seems, is part of the allure of this interactive space, and the “job” of all visitors to reconstruct just who it is the Seligs seemed to be and why they suddenly went AWOL.)

So. Now that the House has been up and running for over a year, the Meow Wolf collective, a collaborative of over 100 artists, technicians and performers (all of whom contributed to the House’s creation and construction) have embarked on an equally ambitious summer venture, one in keeping with the Outer Limits vibe of the entire space.

Billed as their “Summer in the Multiverse,” this summerlong vacation destination celebration will feature over 100 different performing artists: musicians, magicians, acrobats, fencers, lighthouse keepers, belly dancers, snake dancers, firewalkers, stiltwalkers, drag queens, and whoever else might fall down from the sky. All there at the Meow Wolf space, in an area now rightfully self-designated as Santa Fe’s Innovation District, from 10:30 in the morning till closing time.

“We’ll have everything from an intergalactic space-bug hunter leading kids on scavenger hunts to Spanish story hour to somebody playing the tuba in the caves for a couple hours,” says Alexandra Renzo, the Multiverse’s artistic director (who also starred in the Adobe Rose Theatre’s recent production of Time Stands Still, with Broadway Drama Desk nominee Kevin Kilner).

“You might bump into a cosmic fortune teller or a Sno-Cone reader (instead of a tea leaf reader),” says Renzo, who has lured back many of the performers from last Fall’s House of Halloween extravaganza as well other entertainers from Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Colorado. Plus, Meow Wolf has partnered up with Santa Fe’s animal-free circus troupe, Wise Fool, who’ll be around 24-7.

“This is for the child in all of us,” adds Renzo. “We’re all about bringing in creative ideas and activities that are offbeat and sci-fi-ish. And we like to combine all these skill sets people have and embrace them.”

As Joseph Campbell put it in The Hero with a Thousand Faces: “Mythology [which is at the heart of what the folks at Meow Wolf are up to] is eminently untragical. Indeed, whenever the mythological mood prevails, tragedy is impossible. A quality rather of dream prevails. [And] as in dream, the images range from the sublime to the ridiculous. The mind is not permitted to rest with its normal evaluations, but is continually insulted and shocked out of the assurance that now, at last, it has understood.”

“To watch adults get excited about doing something new,” says Renzo, “that’s what it’s all about. And when the space is alive, that’s how it’s meant to be.”

Mike’s Blog: Turquoise, a Defining Element of the Southwest

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One of the most defining artistic and symbolic elements of the Southwest is turquoise, a stone that possesses a captivating quality to natives and passers-through alike. The name “Turquoise” is an iteration of “Turkey,” the country from which the first turquoise imports to Europe came. This greenish blue mineral, consisting of hydrous phosphate, copper and iron, first emerged in ancient Egypt, where it was placed in tombs around 3000 BC.

In both old and new world cultures, turquoise was/is considered a holy stone – used for protection against unnatural death and hailed as a symbol of healing for both the body and the sacred land.

In the Southwest in particular, its hue is reminiscent of rain, essential to life and rebirth in the Puebloan tradition.

 

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The story of turquoise in Santa Fe dates back over a thousand years (perhaps further), and is a complex one. The evidence of vast trade networks, connecting thousands of miles of land through multiple states and diverse cultural groups, has been recently uncovered by new archaeological techniques. Sharon Hull, a noted archaeologist, has spearheaded this endeavor by identifying clear evidence of pre-Columbian trade, stretching all the way from Nevada to the Cerrillos hills of Santa Fe.

While turquoise can be acquired today much easier than our ancestors’ methods, purchasing a piece of turquoise in Santa Fe ties you to the deep tradition of the bartering system of times passed. Most new turquoise jewelry sold today comes from mines in Nevada or Arizona, but the modern manufacturing tradition derives largely from the work of Fred Harvey and his collaboration with native New Mexican artisans. One of the fathers of modern tourism, Harvey pioneered many aspects of modern-day tourism. His handshake deal with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad to build inns, restaurants, and shops with organized tours of native performers, along the various railway stops helped shape our conception of current cultural tourism. This led to what’s been called ‘the first chain restaurants,’ as well as helped define and create the modern demand for southwestern styled silver and turquoise jewelry. Examples of this antique jewelry can be found in galleries throughout town.

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Buying turquoise jewelry can be rewarding and intimidating all at once. Buying jewelry directly from native artisans at the Palace of the Governors located on the Santa Fe Plaza is one option. You can meet the artisans first hand and discuss the quality and history of the jewelry directly with the Native Americans who crafted it, placing yourself in an historical continuum of hundreds of years. The difference in cost between two roughly similar shaped and sized pieces can be thousands of dollars depending on whether the stone is natural or reconstituted and stabilized. Other options are to visit many well known and established shops in town that can take out most of the guesswork, and if you wish to read up on determining the quality of turquoise yourself, read through this guide that the Santa Fe Reporter wrote.

 

In addition to the native artisans present at the plaza, there are several Canyon Road galleries, located close to the Inn on the Alameda, that sell wearable turquoise art. For authentic Fred Harvey wares, Canyon Road offers the buyer many opportunities, including The Adobe Gallery and the Medicine Man gallery. Sessels on San Francisco St. and Keshi on Paseo de Peralta are additional shopping venues located close to the hotel.

The Inn on the Alameda strives to be the perfect ‘base camp’ for any shopping expedition and we would be happy to point you in the right direction based on your shopping desires.

March is Santa Fe DIY!

We know that many of you out there are celebrating the imminent arrival of warm weather with a spring break getaway. Thinking ahead of ways to make a Santa Fe vacation into a unique experience, the City Different has partnered with Santa Fe Creative Tourism to offer a whole month of artistic adventures.

Interested in photography? See the best of northern New Mexico with Craig Varjabedian, who will share secrets on how best to capture the Land and Light of Santa Fe.

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If textiles are your thing, start with the basics and learn to spin with the help of Santa Fe Buffalo Designs.

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Fused glass? We love it, and you will too, in a March 16 glass class with Erik Whittemore of Bullseye Glass. No experience is necessary, and beginners are welcome!

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Heidi Loewen Porcelain Gallery will send you home much more educated about the art of ceramics, and all you need to bring is a sense of adventure and a smile.

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There is tin-smithing with Sharon Candelario available daily, pysanky or what we locally call Southwestern egg-decorating with Elizabeth Mesh, Venetian plaster with Sandra Duran Wilson, and the list goes on and on and on.

Sound like fun? Then it’s about time you turned your hand and eye to making art in Santa Fe!

Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage in Santa Fe

Take a renowned portrait photographer, give her the time and opportunity to shoot some iconic artifacts and unique locations, and you end up with portraiture by proxy. The artist herself says it best: “It’s a big country out there. Go ahead, hit the road and find places and things that inspire and mean something to you.”  How fortunate that Santa Fe has some wonderful results of this advice on display!

An exhibition entitled Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage has just opened at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and it is so worth a visit. The promotion of great women artists has always been part of  the O’Keeffe’s mission, and Ms. Leibovitz was honored in 2010 as one of the Museum’s Women of Distinction. She has returned to the City Different with over 70 works, in an exhibit organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and sponsored in Santa Fe by a grant from The Burnett Foundation.

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Self Portrait © Annie Leibovitz

The exhibit is evocative and unexpected in equal measures. If you follow the curator’s path, you’ll start with a photo of a snake skeleton embedded in a banco at Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and end with an aerial view of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, both representations of a Celtic symbol believed to represent travel from the inner life to the outer soul or higher spirit forms.

The sense of a spiritual journey runs through the whole show, from the places and objects Leibovitz chose to shoot right through to the subtext the viewer intuits from the resulting images. A picture of the worn compass that Thomas Jefferson gave to the Lewis and Clark expedition is positioned across from an amusing shot of a small model of the Lincoln Monument perched alongside the giant foot of the monument itself. John Muir’s notebooks and Charles Darwin’s skeleton of a pigeon shine a light on a few of the curiosities that attract the scientific mind.

John Muir's Notebook, Annie Leibovitz, courtesy of the artist

Annie Leibovitz, John Muir botanical specimen, John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, California, 2011. © Annie Leibovitz. From “Pilgrimage” (Random House, 2011)

Notable women of history receive their due, with a panorama of a evening gown worn by opera singer, Marian Anderson, placed near a photo of Emily Dickinson’s simple white dress. Eleanor Roosevelt’s quiet domicile, Val-Kill, is full of the furniture she had manufactured. The desk of Virginia Woolf is swept clean, in contrast to the quote from her husband that she was “not merely untidy, but squalid.” In a nod to the artistic feminist past, 19th century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron (who, interestingly, was Virginia Woolf’s great-aunt) is represented by a piece depicting the garden door through which her famous neighbor, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, was able to visit in secrecy (nothing shady, just avoiding his many fans). Both the hard and the soft sides of the famed sharp-shooter, Annie Oakley, are revealed by a bullet hole in the center of a heart.

There are artifacts and architecture of all kinds highlighting other artists, from Martha Graham’s iron gates juxtaposed with Isamu Noguchi’s props to Pete Seeger’s incredibly crowded home workshop to Ansel Adams’ glowing red darkroom. You can turn 180 degrees from a rumination on Sigmund Freud’s couch and see the Graceland graves of Elvis Presley’s family. Bet Freud would have a field day with that!

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Georgia O’Keeffe, Purple Hills Ghost Ranch-2 / Purple Hills No II, 1934. Oil on canvas affixed to Masonite, 16 1/4 x 30 1/4 in. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Gift of The Burnett Foundation © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Of course, the visionary Georgia O’Keeffe herself is acknowledged through photos of her house, her studio daybed and her pastels. And you should definitely allow enough time to head back through the Museum to see Georgia O’Keeffe and and the Faraway: Nature and Image, which will be on display through May 5, 2013.

Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage will be on exhibit at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum through May 5, 2013. This is a pictorial journey worth taking!

 

 

 

 

Annie Leibovitz in Santa Fe at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum February 15-May 5, 2013

Self-Portrait, copyright, Annie Leibovitz

Self-Portrait, copyright, Annie Leibovitz

Since its inception, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum has had as part of its mission the celebration of women artists. And this year, Santa Fe is in for a treat, as the Museum brings us “Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage,” an exhibition organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The exhibit is comprised of photographs made between April 2009 and May 2011 and tours nationally to 8 different museums.

This renowned photographer has turned her talents towards subjects quite removed from the portraits for which she is so well-known. The work in this new exhibit is based purely on the artist being emotionally or intellectually moved by the subject. Over the course of two separate trips to New Mexico, Ms. Leibovitz captured images of O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu home, the stunning landscape at Ghost Ranch and its environs, and in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum vault itself.

And there’s an extra special event in conjunction with this exciting exhibit! Ms. Leibovitz will be speaking about her work on Tuesday, February 12, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in downtown Santa Fe. Tickets will be available at www.lensic.com

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is located at 217 Johnson Street in Santa Fe, NM.

Santa Fe Celebrates Georgia O’Keeffe 125th Anniversary

November 15 is a very special day for lovers of Georgia O’Keeffe, and the 125th anniversary of the birth of the famed New Mexico artist gave us a chance to do something different to celebrate!

The One and Only Georgia!

To mark the 125th anniversary of Georgia O’Keeffe’s birthday, the Inn invites lovers of O’Keefe to celebrate the date with a Santa Fe getaway! The Happy Birthday, Georgia Experience includes the following:

  • A four-night stay for two  in a Traditional 2-Queen accommodation
  • Museum passes for two for the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
  • A 2-hour demonstration cooking class for two, based on some of Georgia O’Keeffe’s favorite recipes, at the Santa Fe School of Cooking
  • Ten (10) O’Keeffe postcards to send to those back home
  • An ample continental breakfast every morning
  • A relaxing wine hour every afternoon
  • Free parking, free local and toll-free calls, and complimentary wireless access

The discounted package is available only for the dates or 11/14-18/12, and guests must stay all four (4) nights.  Please note that the cooking class is limited to 18 people, so book early!

Above the Clouds, Oil on Canvas, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1962

Currently on exhibit at the Museum is Georgia O’Keeffe and the Faraway Image: Art and Nature, on view until May 5, 2013. The show drawings and paintings inspired by the Ghost ranch area beloved by O’Keeffe, as well as by outdoor excursions she made. Highlights of the exhibition include O’Keeffe’s paintings, photographs made by others of places she camped, and a recently made photographic panorama of the “Black Place” establishing a contextual reconstruction of a site where O’Keeffe camped in 1944.

Part of the Cliff, Georia O’Keeffe, Oil on Canvas, 1946

For the birthday celebration, the O’Keeffe Museum has put together a whole slate of events to mark the contribution that Georgia O’Keeffe made to the American art scene. All proceeds from events will support the Museum’s exhibitions, public and youth outreach programs. Take note of the following events:

On Wednesday, November 14, a screening of Jill Shapiro’s Bone Wind Fire takes place at the Museum’s Education Annex. Using the words of Georgia O’Keeffe, Emily Carr and Frida Kahlo, the film reveals and revels in the creative spark of each of these unique artists. The screening is free; no reservations required.

On Thursday, November 15, admission to the Museum will be free all day!

From 10am-1pm, on Thursday the 15th, the Museum partners with the Santa Fe School of Cooking to celebrate with food and stories that represent aspects of O’Keeffe’s life.

Also on the 15th,  at 6pm, the St. Francis Auditorium welcomes art historian,  Roxana Robinson, who will explore O’Keeffe’s rich and intriguing body of work in an informative illustrated lecture.

On Saturday, November 17, the O’Keeffe Education Annex hosts a family program from 1-4pm. And at 7pm that night, there will be a jazz concert with Grammy nominee Karrin Allyson at the Ballroom of La Posada.

Get away with Georgia and see the New Mexico that she loved!