In early Spring of 2016, Taoseños began coming home from shopping trips to Santa Fe bearing exotic travelers' tales of a new world of wonders. Our Instagram scrolls suddenly overflowed with violet corridors lined with rainbow-colored trees, curved floors and sculpted walls festooned with every imaginable type of art and selfies taken at the moment of entering some secret sanctuary that could only be accessed by clambering through a vintage refrigerator.
This irresistible new attraction was the Meow Wolf art collective's House of Eternal Return, launched by the collective with support from "Game of Thrones" creator (and Santa Fe resident) George R.R. Martin. Now approaching its second birthday, the 20,000-square-foot immersive space, which includes interactive art exhibitions, a children's learning center, a large-scale music and performance venue and a cafe, has hosted an astounding half-million visitors each year.
Meow Wolf was born in 2008 when a group of Santa Fe artists, representing disciplines including architecture, sculpture, painting, photography and video production, virtual and augmented reality, music and audio engineering, narrative writing, costuming and performance, each wrote a single word on a slip of paper. "Meow" and "wolf" were the first two words drawn from a hat, and the new arts collective had its name.
In celebration of the collective's 10th birthday and the venue's second, Taos Ski Valley's ongoing Speaker Series will be hosting Meow Wolf Chief Financial Officer Drew Tulchin. The multi-media presentation will be offered Friday (March 2), 4-6 p.m. at the TSV Preview Center, located directly across from the Blake Hotel's 192 Restaurant. Light refreshments will be served, and the presentation will include a question and answer session.
Fine artist and entrepreneur Anee Ward is coordinator of Taos Ski Valley's speaker series. "This is our second year of programming for the series," she said. "We started last winter. The general idea is for presentations that will deepen and enhance our guests' understanding of TSV and the larger community. We wanted Meow Wolf here for many reasons, and one of those is that they've received their B Corp certification."
"B Corp," Ward explained, "is a group of for-profit businesses that have changed their bylaws to take into account not only the interests of the shareholders, but also the interests of the stakeholders: the community, the environment, the employees. It's about using the power of business to effect environmental and social change. Last February, TSV became the first ski resort to receive B Corp certification, joining more than 2,000 businesses including Ben and Jerry's, Patagonia, and now, Meow Wolf."
Tulchin first joined Meow Wolf as an investor and stayed on to serve as the group's Vice President of Investments and Capital. "I'm that one MBA among all these artists," he laughed. "We're very fortunate to have had this long history together, and now this amazing success. With our second anniversary coming up in March, it's a great time to visit or revisit the House of Eternal Return. We've just reopened after closing for two weeks to install a lot of new surprises."
Tulchin has been involved with the B Corp movement for seven years, and his connection with Taos Ski Valley also has deep roots. He spoke about the "mutual admiration society" between his consulting firm, Upspring Associates, and the TSV culture.
"We share a firm commitment to do well and to do good," he said. "We can band together to bring people into New Mexico that haven't been here before. We can show them a good time, and at the same time show them what we're doing for the earth and for the world."
Said Ward, "When Drew and I first spoke, obviously we connected over our B Corp certification and the way we're doing business. Less obviously, both of our businesses -- Meow Wolf and TSV -- engage our guests in an experience that might change the way they see everyday life. So, this was the ground for the discussion, and Drew is going to flesh out these ideas at his talk. It's an opportunity to investigate the B Corp concept and to look at growing destinations of inspiration in New Mexico and attracting people to the state. At TSV, you could take a ski lesson, or hike on the ridge, or take the lift to Kachina [Peak] and find yourself changing the way you think about anything from your grocery shopping to your next business idea. That's a 'destination of inspiration' experience."
Tulchin promised to give Friday's guests an insider glimpse into current and future Meow Wolf delights.
"We'll show off some of our new secret stuff in Santa Fe and plans for our next markets in Denver and Las Vegas, scheduled to open within the next two years," he said. "To us, it's important that we're creating a new economy and living-wage jobs. Tourism has sensitivities, so we want to be able to have a wholesome economy that is resilient. And we do that by working together. Meow Wolf is a bunch of artists who created a business. We feel very grateful, and we want to encourage others to create their business goals and to use the power of the marketplace for good."
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