Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart is not what it seems.
It looks like an ordinary grocery store, But then investigate what’s on the shelves: a fizzy drink called Liquid Death, a laundry detergent called Plausible Deniability, a Warhol-like depiction of Camel’s Meal Substitute Sop. The steaks behind the meat counter are red, white and blue. Walk past a toxic spill that has been taped up and into the product area where you peek into one end of a kaleidoscopic pumpkin. And over in Personal Care, there’s a real deodorant from a brand called Future Contact; This particular fragrance is “initiation”.
“We wanted a real deodorant and we wanted it to smell like people,” laughs Emily Montoya. “The idea is that it’s a deodorant for aliens posing as humans.”
This is Omega Mart, a new dystopian installation by the Santa Fe-based art collective Meow Wolf, which is co-founder and Senior VP of Brand Montoya. You can find it in Area 15, a futuristic Disneyland for adults just minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. (Other attractions at the high-tech complex include a psychedelic barcade, flight simulator, and a stunning Van Gogh digital art show.) Omega Mart is more than just an instagrammable grocery store. It’s an amalgamation of 60 different environments created by 350 artists A soundtrack by musicians like Brian Eno and Beach House. Stumble through a fridge of omega sodas and an extraordinary alternate reality where nothing is what it seems.
Food for your cats and wolves. | Photo courtesy Kate Russell
Says that Meow wolf (A name that was created by pulling two random names out of a hat) Hardly scratches the surface of “large-scale immersive installations”. These visionary outsiders create whole new worlds with elaborate (hard-to-follow, totally insane) narratives. Founded in 2008 by a group of artists trying to make a name for themselves in Santa Fe, the collective made headlines in 2016 with its first permanent installation. The House of Eternal Return. The spacious room was opened in a former bowling alley and partly financed by none other than George RR Martin. It offers 70 rooms of hallucinatory, interactive art, loosely themed around a mysterious plot – as well as a bar and a concert stage for live shows.
It’s a must do in Santa Fe and after a long hiatus in 2020 they finally reopened with reduced capacity protocols and Covid. They even included hand sanitizer in the design concept so as not to break the illusion: “We had artists paint over the hand sanitizer to make it look like a piece of soil that mushrooms grow out of,” says Montoya.
Slide around the tiered Dramcorp factory. | Photo courtesy of Omega Mart
Opened this February, Omega Mart is the second permanent installation by Meow Wolf (a third opens in Denver later that year). However, the concept dates back to 2009 when it was first executed in a warehouse in Santa Fe. “It was like we were disrespectful. Let’s do this artist comment on grocery stores, ”explains Montoya. “The shelves were made of plywood and cinder blocks, and we rescued old milk gallons and filled them with rainbow-colored water and wrote on them in sharpie like ‘elk milk’.”
For his second iteration in 2012The group rented retail space in a mall and worked with one Educational program to come up with the products. “The kids would just create crazy things, like ‘a giant sponge in a box for kidnapped cows,'” remembers Montoya. “We’d design them and put them on the shelves.” The collective has even placed ads in local newspapers offering “Nationally Localized Products” and “Organically Recommended Products” without mentioning Meow Wolf.
“It was like, ‘Omega Mart is coming to Santa Fe!'” Says Montoya. “And everyone thought it was real! We had real grocery stores that were afraid we might be their competition. “
Drink the blue whiskey cocktail … if you dare. | Photo courtesy Laurent Velazquez
This Omega Mart in Las Vegas is a bit more expensive. The Meow Wolf executive team now consists of former Bigwigs from Goldman Sachs, Disney and LucasArts. in 2019 she completed a $ 158 million investment round.
But it’s still Meow Wolf. So expect an over the top experience where accidentally opened portals lead to sensory playgrounds with sinister subplots. “The whole story is that Omega Mart is America’s most extraordinary grocery store and they present everything as if it were normal,” says Montoya. “But what actually happened is that they are a subsidiary of this larger cyber-spiritual mega-giant.” Dramcorp and Dramcorp have introduced technology that essentially opened a portal in an attempt to innovate the supply chain. ”
Entry costs $ 45 ($ 35 if you live in Nevada). Toast your victory over Dramcorps HR robots in the hidden Datamosh bar. Serving cocktails like Old Fashioned Spray or Meowjito. And take something Omega products At home with you – like “Who Told You This Was Butter”, a butter-scented refreshing spray for your home or the P-2000 Cracker Spackle. “It repairs any type of crack in the surface of a cracker,” says Montoya. “It’s also commonly known as peanut butter.” She also recommends that nut-free salted peanuts. (Salt. It’s just a can of salt.)
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Vanita Salisbury is Thrillists Senior Travel Writer. She would probably drink the blue cocktail.