An exterior mural for Silva Lanes, which will become the House of Eternal Return complex

Crowdfunding Succeeds for Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return

Santa Fe arts collective Meow Wolf has successfully funded House of Eternal Return on March 2nd through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. 880 donors pledged $105,221, 105% of the organization’s $100k goal.
This new spate of funding follows on a $150-a-head fundraising gala at the Scottish Rite Temple in Santa Fe and a $25,000 first-place award from Creative Startups Albuquerque in the fall.

Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin, who owns the Jean Cocteau Theater that he curates, has purchased the old Silva Lanes bowling alley and dedicated it to this project. The renovated lanes will provide 20,000 square feet to the art installation, which will be designed and constructed by a collective of more than 75 artists, according to Meow Wolf’s published materials. There will also be 16-19 artists’ studios included. One “gift” for ante-ers-up of the $5000 donor level on Kickstarter was a year of an artist’s studio in the lanes.

A count of the 52 names published on the Kickstarter page revealed that 11 of the 52 Meow Wolves are women (21%). An arts education component in honor of one of Meow Wolf’s creators, David Loughridge (who died in 2014), involving another local arts nonprofit, ARTsmart — is also being planned.

The House of Eternal Return as described will be designed as micro-environments or room-sized immersive set designs, (a kind of in-situ series of sets, presumably operating on an exploratorium-cum-fantasy level). Martin met Meow Wolf director Vince Kadlubek when Kadlubek worked at the Jean Cocteau Theater. The coming sequence of art installations are foretold to be permanent. Meow Wolf is estimating 1 million visitors per year will attend.

“Meow Wolf is attempting something insane and it will take a community to realize these dreams! ,” the Kickstarter page read.

One million annual visitors would put the permanent installation’s draw significantly ahead of temporary exhibitions including a Keith Haring exhibition in 2013 that drew just over 300,000 visitors. A Nam June Paik video retrospective drew 780,000. These occurred in large cities, according to the Art Newspaper 2013 report on international art attendance.

The Art Newspaper 2013 also related that temporary art “spectaculars,” the newspaper’s phrase that included crowd-pleasers like an installation by the Starn Twins on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “provide a clearly defined, marketable product, with almost guaranteed or at least controllable results, and with none of the opacities and uncertainties that older, tougher art is built around.”

Meow Wolf’s first supersize-scale public art project, The Due Return, was a lavishly built ship “settled on an alien landscape” that occupied Center for Contemporary Arts from mid-May to late August 2011. Meow Wolf’s recycling-repurposing aesthetic made the Due Return a whole of many parts shaped as interactive environments: grow-light-warming plants and fungi; old barber chairs and ships’ wheels; video installations and live performance art and comedy. I wrote at the time, “I am at this instant wishing to propose that the Due Return is the occupant of a temporary anchorage against the chaos of our not knowing what to call anything anymore.”

The Due Return was Meow Wolf's 2011 extravaganza at Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe

The Due Return was Meow Wolf’s 2011 extravaganza at Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe

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