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The new Meow Wolf celebrates queerness in a glorious dreamland

RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer
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The wait is over! The much-anticipated Meow Wolf opens today (Friday, July 14) in Grapevine. The immersive art experience is the fourth location of the art collective, following locations in Denver, in Las Vegas and, the original, in Santa Fe.

Situated in Grapevine Mills mall, this iteration — The Real Unreal — opens portals into colorful explosions that are whimsical, dramatic, inventive and stimulating.

Or as Meow Wolf describes it: “Participants will embark on a journey through a technicolor wonderland that blends storytelling, technology and immersive art. The experience encourages visitors to explore different dimensions of perspective and creativity through more than 30-plus rooms of multidimensional art and compelling narrative.”

Each Meow Wolf location has a story inviting participants to begin a journey which starts in a familiar space. Here at The Real Unreal, it’s a family home, and writer LaShawn Wanak has given this Meow Wolf a refreshing take on the story of a boy who goes missing into a portal he accidentally opened and the parents who are searching for him.

Through secret doors and interdimensional appliances, the experience transforms a suburban household into something else altogether.

“Meow Wolf seeks to open portals of possibilities and transport people to realms they have never seen before,” CEO Jose Tolosa said at the press preview on June 11.

And what fabulous queer realms exist in The Real Unreal!

Wanak’s story centers on two women — the parents who go searching — who cohabitate with their son — the boy who goes missing — and on the house they live in, a life-size set in which visitors walking through see the family’s Pride on clear display thanks to rainbow bags and slippers, photos and more items placed throughout the interiors.

During the press preview event, as she was hanging out in the family home where guests milled about, Wanak talked about writing a story that wasn’t going to be read but, rather, experienced.

“Thank you for noticing that,” she said, expressing excitement about the queer elements in her story.

As she told Meow Wolf’s blog, The Blob, she hopes people will be comforted by what they take away from the experience.

“I want their first impression to be ‘Oh, this is a well-loved place, and the people inside love each other and care for each other.’ I’m hoping that people will get that sense as they move about, and that as they see [different] parts they’ll think, ‘Oh, they’re living their lives, and they’re living their best lives, too. They’re right where they want to be. At least a few of them are doing the stuff that they’ve always wanted to do, and they’re having a blast.’

“That’s what I want them to see,” Wanak said of her hopes for visitors to The Real Unreal, “that [the characters] care for each other, and they will walk with each other as they figure stuff out.”

Meow Wolf co-founder Emily Montoya offered another perspective to Wanak’s earth-bound world: “The house and the idea of ‘eternal return’ are powerful motifs that formed the catalyst for Meow Wolf’s transformation from a scrappy art collective into the growing company we are today,” she said in a press release.

Local LGBTQ artist Will Herron is among the 38 Texas artists whose works and installations are featured throughout the space. Stay tuned to Dallas Voice for more on the queer artists featured at Meow Wolf.

The queer charisma of Meow Wolf will send a welcoming signal to the community, but there is so much more to the entire experience.

Meow Wolf brought together some 150 artists and fabricators who created 70 experiences ranging from immersive murals to three-dimensional sculptures and creatures to video games and just about any and everything else that could be imagined. Among the artists found in The Real Unreal are Dan Lam, Emmanuelle John, Mariell Guzman, Lance McGoldrick, XaLaVier Nelson Jr., Riley Holloway and Nico Salazar.

This location also honors Matt King, one of the original founders of Meow Wolf who was born in Dallas and who passed away in June 2022. This location obviously has special ties to him.

“We really wanted this space to honor Matt,” Benji Geary said of the Neon Kingdom within The Real Unreal. Flowers from King’s service and other touches that speak to King’s tastes are among the elements included in the huge psychedelic space that envelopes the visitor in neon (LED) lights and a glow-in-the-dark spectrum of colors.

So what to expect on your visit to Meow Wolf? You will certainly get your FitBit steps in. Plan to spend hours in Meow Wolf soaking up the experience through a number of vibes, interactions and visuals.

All guests will enter through the pink gates and metal detectors to step directly into the gift shop, which is as equally curated as the rest of the experience, not just with Meow Wolf attire and gifts, but with artistic intention by creative director Dani Herrera.

“We wanted the experience to begin immediately,” she said before the press tour launched inside The Real Unreal. The aesthetic of the gift shop is colorful and cool with reflective, metallic mannequins keeping eyes on the whole store.

There are lockers and guest services available also at the front of the house.

Murals that depict the stories of transformation and Texas then guide visitors toward Meow Wolf’s curated café, which is “an extension of the immersive art world that is Meow Wolf Grapevine,” said Mandy Cooper, director of operations. “As a certified B-Corporation, our goal is to provide economic opportunity that supports local-, women- and minority-owned small businesses. We have partnered with more than 15 local food and beverage artists to bring their flavors to Meow Wolf Grapevine.

“If you taste something you like, you can visit and support these businesses right here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”

Food and beverage vendors featured in Meow Wolf’s cafe include drinks by Celestial Beerworks, Juiceland, Celzo Co (agua frescas), teas by HTeaO and Purpose and coffees by Noble Coyote and Peaberry.

The menu includes tastes from All Y’alls Food, Blended Family Foods, Del Campo Empanadas, GNS Foods and Nikki’s Popcorn Company. Sweet bites will be provided by Melt Ice Cream, Judy Pie, Macarons by Mac and Cream, Hive Bakery and Buzzed Bull Creamery.

You’ll need the sustenance to manage walking throughout the multi-story venue with its endless rooms, hidden walkways, crawl spaces and secret doors. Designers did consider that and worked in seating throughout the space where you can pause and sit to catch your breath.

Neither food nor drinks nor strollers are allowed into The Real Unreal, but Meow Wolf is ADA compliant.

With all that in mind, get ready for Meow Wolf to be a mind-blowing experience — one that no one could fully describe but that I do highly recommend.

For tickets and location, go to MeowWolf.com/Visit/Grapevine.

For a photo gallery of the exhibit, click here.

The post In living color appeared first on Dallas Voice.

In living color was first posted on July 14, 2023 at 8:00 am.
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