Explore the Visual Wonders of Meow Wolf & Santa Fe Brewing’s GABF Pop-Up Installation
Santa Fe, NM and Denver, CO foster a physical and cultural connection along the southwestern frontier. The expansive Western landscapes and its pioneering residents have untied the two towns historically, while creative industries and blurred cultural lines link the contemporary cities through similar tastes and expressions.
Locals from both cities can wander the streets of Santa Fe – as well as a downtown Denver street aptly named Santa Fe- and find themselves immersed in creativity and culture. And over the past year Santa Fe’s most iconic art collective, Meow Wolf, has not so secretly flirted with the idea of making Denver home to it’s next big endeavor.
This year that connection went one step farther as New Mexican arts and craft beer producers united in Denver for Great American Beer Festival (GABF) – and, formed an aesthetically, and intergalactic connection that will pave the way for the foreseeable future – at a bumping after party honoring the culmination of the first day of GABF weekend on Thursday, October 5.
Summit Music Hall, a punk-metal venue in lower downtown Denver, and Meow Wolf team transformed the venue into a vibrant portal into the art collective’s realm. Accented with the Meow Wolf’s penchant for neon lights and an alien atmosphere, the party slapped GABF week with the same eclectic, buzzing energy associated with the host’s Santa Fe installation. While Meow Wolf’s homestead transports a Victorian-style family home into time warps, the pop-up in Denver looked towards the future. Glittering silver strands, flashing light installations, interactive thermal projections, and large geometric sculptures reflected rainbow lights on every man, woman, astronaut, and contortionist walking around the Moon Room.
Santa Fe Brewing took over the taps and offered redesigned cans of its main and speciality lines. Happy Camper, 7K IPA, the Pale Ale, and Nut Brown came in cans adorned with the zia symbol, representing the sun and the central aspect of the New Mexican state flag. The Moon Room celebration was also the can debut of the 7K IPA, which is now available year-round in Colorado. The Imperial Java Stout packed a strong roasted coffee flavor and joined the flagship Happy Camper on draft. The Hef’d Up Hefeweizen, Wet Hop Pale Ale, Cucumber Saison, State Ten Porter, and Bobcat Dynamite joined the flagship series on tap. The Bobcat Dynamite, a lager made with yarrow root and yerba mate, made a brief, one-time release at the event. The tart Cucumber Saison taunts your tastebuds with a pickle flavor that can fluctuate between salty and sour. The mild Nut Brown Ale broke the routine of hop-heavy IPAs and added the refreshing note of roasted malts to the palate.
John Feins, the marketing director for Meow Wolf, shared that the team sourced the main installations directly from Santa Fe-based Meow Wolf artists and their ongoing projects. Denver artists were then chosen to complement the artists’ works.
Performing contortionists and DJs roamed from the stage into the crowd and interactively entertained guests. Women stacked into high heels and adorned with feathers greeted and danced with guests on the dance floor before strolling onto the stage backed by a house DJ. As the clock reached midnight, a creeping Grim Reaper on stilts waded through the audience. The bringer of death eventually took the stage.
Astronauts delivered trays of futuristic pizzas prepared by local creative Andrew Novick. Slices were topped with unconventional toppings like sweet corn and cheddar puffed Cheetos. The Inventing Room, a Denver innovator of the culinary scene and home to local Willy Wonka-esque chef, Ian Kleinman, levitated s’mores chocolate truffles onto platforms with the aid of liquid nitrogen – that then rose quickly into guests’ mouths. The creative experience at the heart of the Moon Room is “a feast for the eyes, palate and soul,” according to Feins.
With rumours of a Meow Wolf-backed collective based in Denver swirling amid the art world, the GABF after party was a tantalizing preview of what creations could emerge in the next phase of Santa Fe and Denver’s relationship.