It happened over a bonfire. Representatives of Ellsworth Gallery, a new art venue with the goal of showcasing ancient and contemporary art, approached Meow Wolf members gathered around the flames and asked them to co-curate the gallery’s Friday, June 7, opening.
According to Vince Kadlubek, a member of the arts collective, “They really wanted to have the contemporary arts side of the gallery open and welcoming to the younger arts demographic here. So they’re pretty aware of how the art world is here in Santa Fe, and they wanted to come out of the gates a little bit differently.”
As to how exactly the opening differs from the norm, Kadlubek explained that the night combines a number of performative elements in a program called A Night of Surprises. “Whether it be music or dance or theater,” the performances “will sort of just occur, and you don’t know what it’s going to be or where it’s going to come from. It’s almost as if we are going to be flipping a switch and having the audience entering a parallel, surreal universe.” Pressed for an example, Kadlubek hypothesized, “Maybe a gorilla comes through and looks at the art and picks up some hors d’oeuvres.”
Regardless of whether any gorillas crash the party, several nonsurprise performances are openly listed for the evening, incorporating a range of diverse media. Dancer Annie Kohn presents two modern pieces that Kadlubek promises are “magnificent”; artists Matt King and Caity Kennedy create a mobile-style sculpture live and on-site (as with many Meow Wolf productions, the sculpture will encourage interaction); and throughout the night, musicians Cole Bee Wilson, DJ Dirt Girl, and Public Address provide a sonic ambience to complement the goings-on. Public Address’ three sets are a particular highlight. The electronic duo composed of Ben Wright (of D Numbers) and Andrew Bowen “haven’t yet performed in Santa Fe. This will be a first,” Kadlubek pointed out.
Meow Wolf’s transformation of the gallery is designed to correspond with the opening exhibit of photography by Maritza Wild Chateau. Entitled Motion and Stillness, the exhibit harmonizes with the night’s surprises in that, according to press materials, the photos are “evocative of travel to other worlds.”
Doors open with a reception at 5 p.m. and the performances begin around 6:30 p.m. DJ Dirt Girl closes out the evening with a set lasting until everyone, primates included, heads home. — Loren Bienvenu