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The Womb remixed: Flaming Lips' iconic Auto Alley art complex reborn with Factory Obscura's 'Mix-Tape'

Wayne Coyne likens The Flaming Lips and their crew to pirates voyaging with their otherworldly music to audiences around the globe.

But while the Grammy-winning psychedelic rockers are traveling, their fervent fans often journey to Oklahoma City to take photographs outside The Womb, the historic Automobile Alley building that has been an event venue, music video set and art space for the Lips, but has not been consistently open to the public.

“We wanted to have kind of an art space. ... But The Flaming Lips would always sort of get more busy and more popular right as it seemed like, ‘Well, we could do this,’ and then you’d be called off all summer to do festivals around Europe and Japan,” Coyne said.

“We’re like pirates. We’re here, but some years we’re gone all the time. … But I think I longed and longed and longed for this to really happen.”

The Womb is getting new life through a partnership with the Lips, OKC art collective Factory Obscura, New Mexico-based art production company Meow Wolf and local investor Steve Mason.

“This is the best thing that could have ever happened: instead of it slowly deteriorating, them taking it and saying, ‘We’re going to make it this thing,’” Coyne said. “I’m in love with it.”

The Womb’s rebirth begins Thursday, when Factory Obscura, the group behind the popular immersive experiences “Shift” and “Beyond,” pushes play on Phase 1 of “Mix-Tape at The Womb,” its first permanent installation.

“Every day, there’s people outside taking photos and knocking on the door to see what’s in here,” said Factory Obscura Co-Founder and Director of Logistical Creativity Kelsey Karper. “The Flaming Lips really established this as kind of an icon ... and a place where creative and experimental things happen. After a while, this building really didn’t serve their functional needs anymore, but they really wanted the spirit of what they started to continue. … And it turned out to just be the perfect fit for us.”

Opening celebration

A visual, auditory and tactile experience, “Mix-Tape” pays homage to homemade cassette tape compilations.

“It’s about how music can trigger … emotions and memories in people," Karper said.

Thursday night’s Phase 1 opening will include the unveiling of a new addition to The Womb’s exterior: a giant boom box framing the front window. On Saturday, artists worked on a massive three-dimensional mural that will fill the inside of the window.

“It’s inside what would be the cassette deck of the boom box. The buttons are all functional, so you can press the buttons from the outside … and things happen in the window. There’s lights and sound and motion and video,” Karper said.

A gift shop with items hand-crafted by Factory Obscura artists, along with merchandise from the collective, the Lips and Meow Wolf, will open Thursday night, and the original version of Coyne’s art installation the “King’s Mouth” will reign.

Although Coyne and the Lips crew have devised portable versions of the “King’s Mouth” to exhibit in other spaces — including a recent run at the Santa Fe art attraction Meow Wolf, an inspiration for Factory Obscura — they developed the original back in 2011 shortly after The Womb opened. The towering silvery visage houses a light show set to an evocative soundtrack that will be released April 13 as a Record Store Day exclusive.

“If you walk in here now, and you’re 10 years old, I’m hoping it completely blows your mind ‘cause you’re like, ‘Oh my God! How do you do this!?’" Coyne said.

Phase 2

As part of the festivities, The Womb will house March 22-23 the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s “Momentum” exhibit, a two-night event spotlighting Oklahoma artists ages 30 and younger.

Starting March 22, The Womb will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission will be free until Phase 2 of “Mix-Tape” opens in September, when hours will be expanded and visitors will have a menu of ticket options.

"We’re kind of taking the spirit of what The Flaming Lips started and putting our own spin on it," Karper said.

GOING ON

Factory Obscura 'Mix-Tape' Phase 1 opening celebration

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday.

Where: The Womb, 25 NW Ninth.

Admission: Free.

Information: www.factoryobscura.com/mixtape

Related Photos
<strong>The window next to the entrance that will become a boom box as part of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape" installation at The Womb.  [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</strong>

The window next to the entrance that will become a boom box as part of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape" installation at The Womb. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ff2102d3895eeea0f65972ea1550e637.jpg" alt="Photo - The window next to the entrance that will become a boom box as part of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape" installation at The Womb. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" The window next to the entrance that will become a boom box as part of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape" installation at The Womb. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> The window next to the entrance that will become a boom box as part of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape" installation at The Womb. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-4711b482abe7cdf1d585d62341f29700.jpg" alt="Photo - Sara Cowan, on the ladder, and Tiffany McKnight work on murals near the entrance of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape" installation at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" Sara Cowan, on the ladder, and Tiffany McKnight work on murals near the entrance of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape" installation at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Sara Cowan, on the ladder, and Tiffany McKnight work on murals near the entrance of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape" installation at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8b0f76c86f4e7a612db47d0f4e4d08b0.jpg" alt="Photo - Cassie Stover works on the 3-D window mural that will go with the "Boom Box" of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape" art experience at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" Cassie Stover works on the 3-D window mural that will go with the "Boom Box" of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape" art experience at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Cassie Stover works on the 3-D window mural that will go with the "Boom Box" of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape" art experience at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a2f5ead0a93ad99551c8965b2c5cf66f.jpg" alt="Photo - Factory Obscura artists and volunteers work on the new experience "Mix-Tape" at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" Factory Obscura artists and volunteers work on the new experience "Mix-Tape" at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Factory Obscura artists and volunteers work on the new experience "Mix-Tape" at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-6b0f869b5cd377134a99349c20cdc0e8.jpg" alt="Photo - Mary Welch works on the "Boom Box" that will be part of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape at The Womb," Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" Mary Welch works on the "Boom Box" that will be part of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape at The Womb," Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Mary Welch works on the "Boom Box" that will be part of Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape at The Womb," Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e441d201882d38882c0f657a51aaf1c8.jpg" alt="Photo - The Factory Obscura artist collective is transforming the space at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019, into its first permanent art experience, "Mix-Tape." [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" The Factory Obscura artist collective is transforming the space at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019, into its first permanent art experience, "Mix-Tape." [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> The Factory Obscura artist collective is transforming the space at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019, into its first permanent art experience, "Mix-Tape." [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-2bd110b7657846e5c8545c1c0358f8e2.jpg" alt="Photo - Wayne Coyne, frontman of The Flaming Lips, talks about the relationship between Factory Obscura and The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" Wayne Coyne, frontman of The Flaming Lips, talks about the relationship between Factory Obscura and The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Wayne Coyne, frontman of The Flaming Lips, talks about the relationship between Factory Obscura and The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-780a83afd6c9ccef8c6315103391ae58.jpg" alt="Photo - Wayne Coyne, of the Flaming Lips, and Kelsey Karper, of the art collective Factory Obscura, talk about Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape at The Womb" project Saturday, March 9, 2019. Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman " title=" Wayne Coyne, of the Flaming Lips, and Kelsey Karper, of the art collective Factory Obscura, talk about Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape at The Womb" project Saturday, March 9, 2019. Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman "><figcaption> Wayne Coyne, of the Flaming Lips, and Kelsey Karper, of the art collective Factory Obscura, talk about Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape at The Womb" project Saturday, March 9, 2019. Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f435c68d6828bbafbcc85b8d649f98a1.jpg" alt="Photo - Factory Obscura's new immersive art experience "Mix-Tape" starts to take shape at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" Factory Obscura's new immersive art experience "Mix-Tape" starts to take shape at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Factory Obscura's new immersive art experience "Mix-Tape" starts to take shape at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8ae1c6e348e6fc5f61c6363ac74a5169.jpg" alt="Photo - Kelsey Karper talks about Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape at The Womb," Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" Kelsey Karper talks about Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape at The Womb," Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Kelsey Karper talks about Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape at The Womb," Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-1d0709c8c5eac10811cdb387685d5e96.jpg" alt="Photo - Factory Obscura is transforming the space at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" Factory Obscura is transforming the space at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Factory Obscura is transforming the space at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-95106f0b372ee96f60821b79252d0a5e.jpg" alt="Photo - Emily Dawson paints while working on the new gift shop at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" Emily Dawson paints while working on the new gift shop at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Emily Dawson paints while working on the new gift shop at The Womb, Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-74a253c672f69d6806c879a365d6a9cd.jpg" alt="Photo - Sara Cowan preps a surface for painting while working on Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape at The Womb," Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] " title=" Sara Cowan preps a surface for painting while working on Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape at The Womb," Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Sara Cowan preps a surface for painting while working on Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape at The Womb," Saturday, March 9, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1... Read more ›

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