Meow Wolf And Las Vegas Artists Merge To Create Omega Mart
Omega Mart is here -- and no, it’s not a new grocery store in the suburbs.
It’s the much-anticipated anchor tenant inside Area 15, an attraction complex just west of the Strip. It’s also the first major project by Meow Wolf outside its home state of New Mexico.
So who is Meow Wolf and why are they in Las Vegas?
Explaining all these things and more is the company’s senior creative producer, Marsi Gray.
"Meow Wolf is a social impact art project that fuels business and a business that fuels a social impact art project," Gray explained. "We're in the business of creating together with a group of exquisite humans and offering to the public next-level art and storytelling experiences."
Omega Mart is both the name of the space and the name of the exhibit, she said.
"Omega Mart provides a grocery-store experience unlike any other," Gray said. "Our guests will have access to original products that have an uncanny ability to fulfill desires."
But the exhibit isn't just art hanging on the wall to admire - it's a facility with portals to 60 unique environments and spaces with projection mapping, murals, sculptures and technology-based interactive art.
Beneath that is a narrative about Walter Dram and Dram Corp, Gray said. People can learn as much or as little as they like about the story, depending on how much time they want to give.
"As you go through the exhibit, you can look at our film media that is up on the monitors. You can dig into a digital storytelling experience to get more clues. You can dig through files on computers, in desk drawers - and really dig deep into the narrative if that's the experience you want to choose for yourself," she said.
Gray said Meow Wolf wanted to explore ideas around consumerism and supply chains in Omega Mart but didn't want to be didactic.
"We can look at it and say, 'Consumerism is bad. Our reliance on the supply chain has cut too deep, or, corporations are bad,'" she said, "But really what we like to do is present these concepts and present facets of these concepts, because the end of the day, there are things that we want, there are ways we rely upon the supply chain that are necessary, there are relationships to corporations that are good and they are deep in their heart trying to do good."
She said Meow Wolf likes to present all kinds of perspectives about the concepts and have guests make up their own minds.
While some of the artists for the project came from New Mexico, Meow Wolf also recruited local artists. Spencer Olsen, the artistic director of the project, was one of them.
He was born and raised in Las Vegas and used his network of friends to bring in people for the project.
"I was incredibly proud of and impressed by the team we were able [to form] locally," he said. "It was almost too good to be true. Everyone was wonderfully talented and so inspired to be working on it."
As artistic director, Olsen was tasked with bringing the vision of Meow Wolf's founders and creative direction team into fruition.
"They had the idea for Omega Mart and other anchor spaces, and I helped to flesh out what that feels like and looks like and the materials and colors and lighting and everything involved," he said.
Olsen said because the whole thing is collaborative the ideas that everyone had became amplified and better.
But one of the best experiences in creating the project was the last few months, he said.
"We had a lot of contractor-built items. Some really large sculptural pieces, facades, and the Meow Wolf team and a bunch of local artists came and applied what we called the frosting, which is the final touch," he said. "It's sculpture; it's painting to give everything this very lived-in and kind of handmade feel."
With the exhibit open, Meow Wolf hopes to lure tourists from the Strip and locals from around the valley. Olsen believes Omega Mart offers something interesting for everyone.
"If you are what we refer to as a deep diver, who really wants to know the story and know really what's going on and why this is all here, why is this happening, you can do that," he said. "Or, if you just want to go and inhabit interesting environments, it has the spectacle and scale that tourists coming to Las Vegas are used to. So, if you just want to come and take beautiful pictures and explore, that's totally available for you."
Marsi Gray, senior creative producer, Meow Wolf; Spencer Olsen, artistic director, Meow Wolf