Santa Fe-based immersive art phenomenon Meow Wolf isn’t scheduled to open its Denver location until next year, but as a sort of preview of its funky DIY aesthetic, Meow Wolf partnered with local amusement park Elitch Gardens to create “Kaleidoscape,” a dark ride with an artistic bent. The permanent addition to Elitch’s opened in April.
Meow Wolf recruited a half dozen Denver artists to work on the ride, including DU faculty members Laleh Mehran and Chris Coleman, of the Emergent Digital Practices program in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Mehran and Coleman created the ride’s opening animations, and Coleman made a video that plays on a TV-headed creature later in the ride.
A remodel of an existing ride called “Ghost Blasters 2,” the new ride gives each rider a gun with which to shoot targets. Riders move through a number of separate rooms—everything from a colorful neon forest to a minimal sci-fi landscape to a jumbled thrift-store nightmare—and the targets, when hit, cause doors to open, flowers to light up, guitars to play and monsters to rise.
“We’re pleased with our component,” Mehran says. “It is great to see how Meow Wolf’s longstanding practice as an art collective has started to invite other artists in. In the same way, each artist who works with Meow Wolf has to understand that they are not making an artwork in a group show, but instead are making a small part of a Meow Wolf experience. It requires a different approach than the typical fine art practice.
“We’re not currently engaged with Denver Meow Wolf, but if the opportunity came up, we’d be interested,” she continues. “We see Meow Wolf as a really exciting space for artists in Denver, especially for students coming out of Emergent Digital Practices.”