At Dream Hollywood, the art adorning its lobby rotates with a frequency surpassed only by the guests themselves. With lofty ceilings and white walls, the space doubles as a gallery by design and has welcomed the likes of Mr. Brainwash and Domingo Zapata. Now, the hottest trend in the art world has checked in: non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Through early 2022, the photogenic West Coast flagship of a hotel group with locations in downtown Manhattan, South Beach Miami, and Bangkok is presenting visitors with a digital art exhibition courtesy of a partnership with the Crypt Gallery. And it’s not simply a passive experience: visitors can take part in live auctions streamed from online NFT marketplaces and join guest-only raffles for limited-edition works.
“One of the passion points for Dream Hotel Group is art. Our hotels are renowned for displaying work from famous contemporary artists,” Vaughn Davis, the hotel’s General Manager, tells Jing Culture & Commerce. “We found it to be a natural transition to add digital art into the mix… it provides a transformative experience for our guests, as it’s always moving, always changing.”
Davis had been following the fluctuations of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies for a decade when NFTs transcended popular culture in early 2020 with a series of high-profile sales and celebrity backing. It’s a smart fit for a young, contemporary hotel that caters to socialite mingling in the heart of Hollywood. So too for the Crypt Gallery, which eyes the luxury end of the hospitality industry as a rich avenue for bringing NFTs to the mainstream. Dream’s specific draws? A buzzy location teeming with bars and restaurants, a unique art and design setting, and a high volume of visitors who pass through the exhibition space 24/7.
The exhibition is broken into three spaces, each representing a key component of the NFT art universe: the art itself, the marketplaces, and the collectors. The sunbathed lobby displays a diverse selection of NFT artwork — including photography, 3D animation, painting, and sculpture — the lounge centers on marketplaces and hosts the live auctions, and a separate wall showcases celebrated pieces, some of which are owned by exhibition curator Athanasios Polihronopoylos, alias King of Midtown.
“Our goal was to bring the digital marketplace to life by illustrating how artists, marketplaces, and collectors are key,” says Polihronopoylos. “We quantify our success by how many newcomers we are able to educate and convert into collectors.”
This mission requires demystifying the intimidating world of NFTs, something the exhibition reaches towards by using simplistic language and including QR codes that guide guests to additional information — though, such thoroughness may not be necessary for many, Davis suggests, given a large portion of clientele hail from the entertainment and creative industries.
Such familiarity with the art world’s newest collecting category was on show at Dream Hollywood’s auctions this summer. The Crypt Gallery creates in-person experiences for events simultaneously taking place online and allows guests to view artwork, place bids, and watch live as bids roll in, all while slumped on a sofa with cocktail in hand.
In August, its first auction saw artists Brilly and Chad Knight, ex-skateboarder and Head of 3D Design at Nike, release pieces on MakersPlace, a digital art marketplace. The final auction pieces both ended up in the digital wallets of in-person participants. In addition, during the live auction, the artists also released pieces exclusively available to those onsite in a $1 raffle, a low entry point, Polihronopoylos says, to entice new collectors.
With a formula that combines this year’s cultural phenomenon with the fun of an auction in a chic social space, it’s little wonder the Crypt Gallery will begin occupying Dream’s other US locations next year.