By now you’ve probably heard about Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return, the art collective’s new permanent art exhibition-cum-adventureland installed in the old Silva Lanes bowling alley just off Cerrillos. Honestly, if you live in northern New Mexico it’s been virtually impossible to avoid hearing about it — it’s the biggest thing to happen to the Santa Fe art scene in decades. Aside from the usual local sources, it’s been written up in the the New York Times, NPR, Arstechnica, the LA Times, Gizmodo, VICE, The Guardian, and dozens of other places in the endless echo chamber of the internet.
Notably, none of these stories agree on what, exactly, The House of Eternal Return is. Art exhibit; real-life MMORPG; steroidal Pee-wee’s Playhouse; amusement park; “freak-out art mecca”; or some combination therein, everyone’s got their own opinion. That said, nearly everyone — myself included — agrees that it is an unequivocally excellent art/life experience.
Sarah Hart and I went down on opening weekend and spent several blissful hours wandering the whole glorious length of the thing. I recommend going with friends of varying artistic interests and persuasions; I spent most of the time reading everything I could get my hands on (laughing aloud at the binder page describing the plans for the office that will be “Don Draper af”), while Sarah was attuned to more visual observations (“every pencil in the house has been chewed on!”). We would come together to compare notes, then dive back into the experience. We’d interact with other people who were obviously on completely different journeys (“I think I’ve figured out what the house means!”). Grown-up time never passed so quickly, especially not in any art context I can think of.
Favorite observations: forget the kids, every adult we passed was absolutely beaming. Similarly, but perhaps more importantly, no one was using the (incredibly well-stocked) video game arcade — Sarah, a sometime-collector and enthusiast, didn’t even want to go in — and I hardly saw a cell phone come out once. The space is simply so captivating that our favorite modern tech distractions have no place there.
Incidentally, if you spend some time in the comments sections of the aforementioned articles (as I somewhat-misguidedly did), you’ll come across what may in fact be the most exciting thing The House of Eternal Return has sparked so far: a vigorous, sometimes-heated debate over what art really is. Bravo, Meow Wolf, for dragging armchair critics from around the world to the brink of uncertainty!
TL/DR: just go. You won’t regret it. And report back to us about what you thought! Even if you find that it’s not your cup of tea (hard as that is for me to imagine), I promise it’ll give you a lot to think about. Also, Taosenos will be pleased to see some familiar work; most noticeably, Christina Sporrong’s Tarantula and Christian Ristow’s Becoming Human both tower over the parking lot.
Speaking of Sporrong, here’s a casually unobtrusive segue — The Toolbox, Taos’ new makerspace, is hosting a month of free classes in April, featuring a visit from the Meow Wolf crew on Thursday, April 14 at 6pm. I’m looking forward to them bringing some of that delicious art mojo our way.
The month of free classes also includes Fix it Fridays; Intro to Screenprinting with Sarah Hart; 3D Printing for adults; Cafe Scientifique; the second annual Invent Event; and more. Get on over there and learn how to break/fix/make some shit, ok? We need this makerspace in town. It’s a truly excellent time to be making art and community in northern New Mexico, and it’s on every one of us to help make it go.