The next stop on the XLIVE Interview Series is with one of our XLIVE 2017 Keynote Speakers, Vince Kadlubek the Co-Founder & CEO of Meow Wolf, a collective of artists combining art and music to create a fully immersive and interactive experience, located just outside Santa Fe, NM. Vince shared with us some thoughts about their most ambitious installment, Art Motel, that attracted 40,00 people at Life is Beautiful in Las Vegas.
Love the company name – but in all seriousness, what’s a Meow Wolf.
Meow Wolf was a name that we pulled out of two hats. Meow came out of one hat and Wolf out of the other. It was random and exquisite corpse style, but it has really become a part of who we are. Meow is the cute and cuddly and harmless, and Wolf is the fierce and aggressive and wild.
You shared with us previously that George R.R. Martin is your landlord, purchasing the building that Meow Wolf is currently located. What were some of the other early struggles or obstacles you overcame in the early stages of Meow Wolf?
The biggest one was that we were producing a product that had never existed before. There was no precedent for a “Meow Wolf exhibit”. It was tough convincing investors of our vision. We also were an art collective that was becoming a business. We had never hired anyone before, never had real payroll. This was a huge learning curve for us.
Having a music venue in Meow Wolf is pretty unique, how did that come to be and who are some notable people that have shared the stage?
We have always been an art collective that created immersive exhibitions and music shows within those exhibitions. This has always been part of our strategy. We’ve had Nicolas Jaar, Amanda Palmer, Yeasayer, Of Montreal, Deer Tick, to name a few.
Meow Wolf has created some extraordinary art installations at various festivals. Can you tell us a little be about your recent installment, Art Motel, at Life is Beautiful.
Zappos came to us and wanted to sponsor an installation at LIB. It was an old, run-down motel that we transformed into a delightful other world. The exhibit was called Art Motel, and was a collaboration of 50+ artists. This show was one of the most ambitious shows we have ever done, and it was really well received. 40,000 people saw it in three days, and images from the show were shared to over a two million people.
Working with such a prominent brand as Zappos as sponsors sounds like an amazing opportunity. How did their involvement inspire the exhibit or art works?
Zappos is a really positive, celebratory, fun-first company. We knew we wanted to create something that felt like a party, Life Is Beautiful and Zappos were perfect partners for that energy.
Was there anything specific they wanted included in the exhibit and how did you accomplish it?
Zappos included a couple hand-picked artists, but mostly the project was left in our hands. There was a ton of support from Zappos to make the project happen, it was a massive collaboration.
Creating these attractions is no easy feat, and I only assume that many laborious hours get poured over creating these beautiful pieces of art. What happens to these temporary installations when the festival is over?
We keep the work and will be reinstalling in a future, permanent exhibit. Everything we make can be broken down and re-built with ease.
What has been your favorite installment from Meow Wolf and why?
Our best work is our permanent exhibition in Santa Fe, House Of Eternal Return. This is the most true version of what we are capable of. It is a 20,000 sq. ft. exhibition that is an endless mix of artwork and narrative and sound and interaction.
What’s on the horizon for Meow Wolf?
Meow Wolf will be expanding, opening permanent exhibitions in multiple cities in the next few years. We want to create the most amazing experiences in the world, that is the goal. And we are on pace to do so.
If you weren’t doing Meow Wolf, what would you be doing?
Probably delivering food or working at a restaurant, scraping by and wishing people would take my ideas seriously.
Meet and hear from Vince Kadlubek at XLIVE 2017!