Before Meow Wolf opens its permanent space on Colfax Avenue (expected in 2020), the Santa Fe-based immersive art company is introducing itself to Denver with an interactive show called Special Guest in the Next Stage Gallery at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

Curated by five local artists in collaboration with Denver Arts & Venues and University of Colorado Denver’s College of Arts & Media, the installation opened on June 14 as a space for the general public and other Denver artists to create their own multimedia experiences. 

The art show is one of the first exhibitions presented by Meow Wolf in Denver, and is intended to be a space of inclusiveness, embodying the collective’s philosophy of making art accessible and absorbing. The five local artists involved in the project—Molly Bounds, Derrick Velasquez, Laura Shill, Diego Rodriguez-Warner, and Dmitri Obergfell—hope the space will allow for conversations about issues within the public arts, community development, education, and equality, as well as serving as a platform for visitors to express their individuality.

“Special Guest is a focus on art and creative technologies,” says Jeff Lambson, director and curator of Next Stage Gallery. “The show is a good way to introduce Meow Wolf to the community.”

Hotdogs break apart and can be used as cushions for seating. Photography by Robert King Photography

The artists came up with the idea and curated the exhibit, which is set up is like a zany take on a public access talk show, with inspiration drawn from Pee Wee Herman, Johnny Carson, and of course, Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Returns in Santa Fe. During open hours, anyone can make use of the space however they choose. Wigs, costumes, and other props, in addition to the moveable art installations are available, while a life-size robot dressed in a wig and Hawaiian shirt (yes, really) acts as a camera man, recording and broadcasting the action live on Meow Wolf’s YouTube channel.

“The space is open and interactive for people to come in and bring their own vision,” Lambson says. The space can also be utilized as a meeting place for community groups or act as a venue for local bands, according to Lambson.

“By creating a public access stage, we hope to serve the needs of the greater art community with opportunities for experimentation, participation, and chance happenings,” says Hans Sayles, Meow Wolf’s artist liaison.

In the evenings, visitors can look forward to events such as music shows, poetry readings, interviews, dance performances, drag shows, karaoke nights, film screenings, and puppet shows (check back to Next Stage Gallery’s website for details).

“There aren’t enough spaces open to everyone in Denver,” Lambson says. “We are hoping for some crazy, fun, and thoughtful conversation to come out of this.”

If you go: Special Guest is free and open to the public on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The exhibit will be on display through the end of the year. 

Victoria Carodine
Victoria Carodine
Victoria Carodine is a Denver-based writer and a former editor on 5280's digital team.