- NFTs are stored on a crypto-style blockchain but can also be displayed physically, gallery style.
- The Dream Hollywood hotel and The Crypt Gallery have opened a physical NFT exhibit to the public.
- The free event makes an effort to not only impress exhibit attendees with art but also educate them.
Non-fungible tokens – or NFTs – are a new concept taking the art and tech worlds by storm. Many fans and followers are wondering whether these digital assets, which are stored on a crypto-style blockchain, are the future of art or just a passing phase.
With celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan and Katy Perry – along with companies such as ViacomCBS – joining in on the craze, it’s already become big business. In August alone, $3 billion worth of NFTs were sold on OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT venue, Bloomberg reported.
While the ins and outs of how to buy and sell NFTs might still be foreign to the average consumer, some art enthusiasts believe that this forward-thinking platform could eventually offer greater accessibility within the art world by allowing new artists a chance to break into the industry.
“Art can feel very closed off and elitist,” said Kevin Fegans, a brand marketing and communications executive in Los Angeles and a self-proclaimed fashion and art enthusiast. The NFT market, he said, feels more accessible. “It’s all new artists. It’s a great way to support emerging talent,” he added.
Fegans recently visited the Dream Hollywood hotel’s new NFT art exhibition – one of the first exhibits of its kind in a hospitality setting.
“This was the first NFT gallery I’ve heard of,” Fegans said. “I’ve been fascinated, and I think everyone is.”
The idea is gaining momentum. A few months ago, a New York City gallery was the first to display NFTs physically. Now, such exhibits are popping up in major cities such as London and Chicago, and even at Art Basel.
The Dream Hollywood exhibition, coordinated in partnership with The Crypt Gallery, is set to be available to the public for free through 2022 in the hotel’s lobby, which would allow people to learn about and see NFTs up close without paying a cent.
“For NFT connoisseurs, avid art collectors, and even the newest fans of the medium, this exhibition is both provocative and informative,” said Vaughn Davis, the general manager at Dream Hollywood. “When a tech-forward, physical gallery space merges with powerhouse digital collectors like King of Midtown and 33, magic happens.”
The exhibit was curated by Athanasios Polihronopoylos, known as the King of Midtown, an NFT art collector in New York turned innovator and founder of The Crypt Gallery. The exhibit features the works of well-known digital artists such as Chad Knight, Yo Brilly, Lefty Out There, NessGraphics, Tillavision, Lana Denina, Brendan North, Jason Seife, and Robbie Trevino.
One of the catalysts for the gallery, Polihronopoylos said, was the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. With people spending less time on their screens and discovering the digital world of NFTs, he wanted to continue the concept’s momentum.
“I was thinking ahead in terms of what things would look like as we begin to globally reopen,” he said. “I was always concerned about pullback from our screens. I thought artists could lose momentum, marketplaces would lose momentum – collectors like myself who have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into the space.”
He believed that having a physical presence for NFTs would not only help propel buyer participation but also help connect NFTs with a more mainstream audience.
With the fast progression of the NFT industry and NFTs’ global audience, the hospitality space provided the perfect avenue to reach a large group of people, Polihronopoylos said.
“As soon as you walk into the lobby, you’re immersed in all the different videos,” Fegans said. “There’s so much. There’s all of these beautiful images moving around on display. One panel has probably 40 to 50 artworks within it. I’d say miniature size, but really, really cool.”
Fegans said he’d heard about NFTs before, but he didn’t know much about them before visiting the exhibit – which he found comfortably busy for a Tuesday afternoon – for a 30-minute look. But, he said, since attending, he feels like he sees NFTs everywhere, with many brands talking about them through social media and email marketing.
“I feel like this is kind of the zeitgeist of the art world, where it’s something that’s been buzzing about, but you’re like, ‘What is it really?'” he said. “That’s what it feels like culturally.”
He said the exhibit seemed to expect this and made an effort to not only impress exhibit attendees with art but also educate them on the workings of NFTs with educational vignettes in the form of video monitors – installations alongside the exhibits that educate and inform guests on the NFTs, the gallery, and the featured artists.
“It was kind of like art for dummies,” Fegans said. “It was kind of assumed that you knew nothing about it, so there was a ‘who, what, when, where, why.’ I thought it was a really great experience that way. They did a great job of curating that experience.”
The partnership between Dream Hollywood and The Crypt Gallery is expected to grow, with a plan in place to launch a new exhibit in New York City.