Have you ever read a fantasy story where there’s a neutral space with a collection of portals that lead to other worlds? Like Narnia’s “Wood Between the Worlds” and The Magician’s “Neitherlands”. These in between spaces show up often in sci-fi and fantasy stories and they’re pretty cool, right? Well, last weekend I found one.
By now lots of you have probably heard of Meow Wolf. (Check out this post if you haven’t https://ideasorlando.com/blog/in-another-dimension/.) Meow Wolf introduced me to this fantastic genre that is experiential art. It’s the kind of stuff that’s not just something you look at, but something you interact with and…well…experience. These pieces don’t let you enjoy them passively, they reach out and say “Hey, you’re a part of me now, let’s do this!”.
I recently went to check out Wonder Wonder, a new art gallery in Boulder, Colorado. As I write this they have yet to have their grand opening, they were still working on some stuff and their little shop wasn’t open yet, but they are already open to the public so I went inside. It was actually really nice that I ended up going when I did, because it wasn’t crowded so I had plenty of space to wander around and take pictures. And everything was so photogenic.
The experience is driven by choice. There is a lot of open space, and in the space there are a couple free standing (Or hanging) exhibits, but for the most part each exhibit is contained in its own room. Some rooms have open doorways, some have curtains. You are in an in between land until you step through a doorway and suddenly you are in a new dimension. That’s the best way for me to describe it. A collection of portals. You’re in a fairly normal, neutral space, but then you make a choice and suddenly you’re…somewhere else.
The exhibits range from aesthetically pleasing shapes to glowing room sized dreamscapes to three dimensional literary collages. My favorite room was probably the book room (no surprise to anyone who knows me). All over the walls were pages of books, books themselves arching across the room, popping out of the walls like living things. There were stacks against the wall, and of course my first instinct was to see if I could pick one up. Indeed I could. I sat there for a while, reading, just to see if anyone would say anything. Interact with me as a living part of the exhibit. No one did. I probably wouldn’t have either. You’re not supposed to disrupt people who are reading, and I was reading inside a room the books had claimed as their own, so talking was extra off limits. To be honest, I wanted to be able to close the doors and ceiling and just stay there and write (by which of course I mean lay on the ground and cry because writing is hard and probably start ranting about it to the books). I’ve recently started reworking the entire ending and core message of a story I’ve been writing for a good three years, so the wild explosion of words that is that room is basically the inside of my brain right now. Alas, I had to move one, because no matter how many Writer ProblemsTM you’re having, secretly moving into an art museum is never the answer. Probably.
There was a strange maze of mirrors which was cool, but very disconcerting, a collection of ribbons you could walk through, and a few rooms closed off by black curtains that featured interesting glowing things. Pictured here is me pretending that this glowing box is the tesseract, because I’m a Marvel nerd and that’s just how it goes.
The last room in the exhibit is what they call the DIY room. It’s a really neat concept, especially smart in the age of social media. Basically, there’s good lighting and backdrops of various colors and a props table, and you get to create your own art piece, include yourself in it, and take pictures. One can imagine that I, being an artist, ex props crew chief, and person who takes a lot of kind of okay pictures of herself in cosplay, had a lot of fun with this… I really can’t wait to see where I end up next in this exploration of odd art I’ve fallen into. Wonder Wonder is a really fun experience full of dreamy, whimsically surreal art. And I’m serious, it looks really good in pictures. If you find yourself in Boulder, take a moment to stroll through this collection of worlds, dreams, and beautiful nonsense.
You can follow Wonder Wonder on Twitter @wonderwonder_us and on Instagram at wonderwonder.us