How does an art collective, “a scrappy, anarchist-bent, psychedelic art collective” that started with a group of kids in a Santa Fe basement, become a multi-million dollar business employing more than 150 artists? Morgan Capps and Jilann Spitzmiller created the film Meow Wolf: Origin Story to show us how it all began, and they will both be at the Mendocino Film Festival June 1-3 to answer questions after their film is shown.
Listen to John Hardin’s KMUD radio interview with both of the filmmakers here.
The film will screen on Saturday, June 2 at 3:00 p.m. at the Festival Tent, and again at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday at Matheson Performing Arts Center in the village of Mendocino.
Art Collective Creates Large-Scale Interactive Installation
Meow Wolf’s large-scale works include The House of Eternal Return, a 20,000 sq ft interactive art installation that’s part fun house, part black-light theater, and a whole lot of what their benefactor, George RR Martin, the creator of Game of Thrones, calls: “Like nothing you’ve ever seen before.” As their biggest fan, Martin also became their biggest supporter. He bought them a bowling alley, where more than 140 artists collaborated in building the exhibit. More than 400,000 people visited for more than seven million dollars in revenue in the first year alone.
“A unique art experience featuring a new form of non-linear storytelling, the 20,000-square-foot exhibit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, contains dozens of rooms and secret passageways with interactive light, sculptures, video, animation, and musical objects to explore. The exhibit creates a space where art becomes everything you see, hear, and touch.” The filmmakers describe the space as a “multi-sensory experience’ that can be enjoyed on every level, from a 3-year-old to adult. One of the goals of the art collective’s installation is to encourage visitors to unlock their own creativity and explore where that leads.
A Mendocino Connection
Within this setting is a narrative, the mystery of the Selig family, who disappeared one night after conducting a forbidden experiment in their Victorian mansion in Mendocino. The filmmakers are excited to visit the area and talk about the “treasure hunt” experience of finding clues to the disappearance of the Selig family, and the Mendocino connection. Rumor has it that there are those in the Mendocino area who would like to create an artspace inspired by the Meow Wolf art collective, and House of Eternal Return. One of the most exciting parts of the project for Capps and Spitzmiller has been “seeing the kids grow up, and how their relationships have developed through their collaborative efforts.”
The Methodology—A Balance Between Chaos and Order
Meow Wolf: Origin Story shows us how Meow Wolf works, how the art collective came together, and tells the story of their success. The film follows artists whose identities have been shaped within this group dynamic, and how even with diverse egos, the art collective was able to keep their roots and honor the creative process. Questions like artistic freedom vs organization, individual passion, and the good of the collective forced the artists to walk a fine line between chaos and order, inspiration and mental illness, and finally, destruction (chaos) and success (order) as they navigate their future together.”
A producer, host and engineer on KMUD radio, John Hardin created Wildlife Matters, which KMUD listeners twice voted Best Public Affairs Program of the Year. He produces an occasional series, The Adventurous Ear, which profiles music of exceptional originality, and is host and producer of Monday Morning Magazine which airs from 7:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m Monday mornings on KMUD. Visit John Hardin’s blog here.