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Meow Wolf takes over motel for Las Vegas fest

SANTA FE, N.M. — Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf will present its latest installation–an artist takeover of a vacant motel and courtyard–this weekend at the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas, Nev.

“The Art Motel,” which is returning to the festival after a first run in 2015, includes the 13,000 square foot Vegas motel with 21 rooms and a 6,000 square foot central courtyard that are re-created and designed.

Online clothing store Zappos, whose CEO Tony Hsieh is an investor for the annual music, art and food festival, sponsored Meow Wolf to design the 2017 installation.

Each motel room will be the vision of a different artist or artists. These include a “slime room” a room made out of ramen noodles and one room turned into a “bedazzled” crime scene, said spokesman John Feins. The  courtyard area, “Helter Shelter” is described as an interactive “neo-psychadelic neighborhood of fantastical huts” that will act as a central area for festivalgoers.

In 2015, Meow Wolf was invited to participate in create four rooms in the “Art Motel,” Feins said. Hsieh saw the work, later visited Santa Fe following the 2016 opening of  Meow Wolf’s hit installation “The House of Eternal Return” and invited the art collective to take over the motel entirely in 2017.

“Life Is Beautiful is one of the premier events of festival season, and they care a lot about the artwork side of the festival experience,” Meow Wolf CEO Vince Kadlubek said in a news release. “We can’t wait to share our imaginations with the people of Vegas.”

About three dozen local and Las Vegas artists will be at the festival working on the installation, but Feins said more than 100 have participated in some capacity prior to this weekend. He said “Art Motel” has similarities to the “House of Eternal Return” in the sense that they are both exploratory rooms full of art. But rather than being connected to one story like the Santa Fe installation, this temporary one allows for more individual visions at once.

“You could argue that there is more eclecticism and range than Meow Wolf has ever done before,” said Feins.

The festival will be held downtown Las Vegas Friday-Sunday.