(2019-12-16) The Latest Denver Artist To File Suit Against Meow Wolf Speaks Out

The Latest Denver Artist to File Suit Against Meow Wolf Speaks Out. In August, artist/activist Zoë Williams, the director of community outreach for Meow Wolf Denver, which is slated to open in 2021, filed a claim with the State of New Mexico, charging that Meow Wolf discriminates against its female and gender non-binary employees. Now Mar Williams, a narrative illustrator for Meow Wolf (and no relation to Zoë Williams), joined what has become a full-fledged lawsuit filed in District Court in Santa Fe.

Their suit, which they've said will be turned into a class-action case, names Vince Kadlubek, the Meow Wolf co-founder who stepped down as CEO in October; he and other individuals have filed motions to have their names dismissed from the case.

Last month, as Mar Williams was contemplating joining the lawsuit, we reached out to the artist, a 2016 Westword MasterMind for Williams's work at Cabal Gallery, among other efforts, to ask about the complaints.

From the start, I had issues with Meow Wolf coming to Denver, their practices, and how they were engaging with the art community. I think initially I got hired, at least in part, so I'd shut up about it.

My role is Narrative Illustrator officially, though I joined up thinking I'd be involved in installation work as well. That never came to fruition.

Vince and others. Vince has stepped down from the CEO position, but he's still on the board. And as far as I can tell from his public statement about it, he's probably coming back as CEO. Sounded to me more like he's on vacation or maybe just hanging around in the background until things cool off.

I feel like Vince is primarily responsible for the way I am being treated, not only because of how he acts with me, but also because of the directives he’s given to isolate me.

I've considered quitting many times. But I do have some hope that Meow Wolf does something to actually address the problems instead of just paying lip service

Meow Wolf is a corporation wrapped in a sparkly collectivist, socially conscious, queer, DIY package — it's wokewashing. At least, that's the face they sell to the public.

The reality is you've got some politically conservative, pro-corporate, hard-core capitalists running the ship now. And that's built on the back of a culture that was never very woke to begin with.

I think the art being created for Meow Wolf Denver is probably going to be very cool. A handful of these people making the art are good friends, and I fully support them. My problem with Meow Wolf isn't the art. I think when you paste a brand across the names of really killer, hardworking artists in the community, criticizing the brand becomes near impossible. There's not enough separation. And I'm certain they leverage that when dissent arises.

Early on, it was heavily implied that artists close to the company would have more opportunities. "Meow Wolf rewards persistence" was the phrase thrown around

They only recently have raised their low end to $17 an hour. My understanding is that minimum doesn't apply to contract workers, who are the majority of Denver artists working with them. They're paying artists less than the national average

I worry about gate-keeping and exploitation. The city won't listen to artists unless they're associated with a big corporation with [money]. So many DIY and art spaces in Denver have closed in the time since Meow Wolf came to town.

the visibility of Meow Wolf creates this impression in the larger public of Meow Wolf as the hero, swooping in to save the art community. It's bullshit, but it puts pressure on artists to kiss their asses and take less than they're worth.

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