A new gallery on the island is bringing fine art into the world of cryptocurrency and the next stage of the internet.
Oditto Gallery, 139 N. County Road, Suite 11, in the Paramount Theatre building, is one of the first fine art galleries in the world to offer a nonfungible token, or NFT, with each piece of physical art purchased.
The artists featured in the gallery include globally recognized names: TRAN$PARENT, Paula Urzica, David Banegas, Ron Burkhardt, Toni Sanchez, Serge Strosberg, Paul Nagy and Nita Patel. Exhibitions include Patel’s works of “healing art” in February, Gabe Weiss in March, Asli Ozok in April and Toni Sanchez in May.
“These artists are established, and there is intrinsic value in their work,” said Celeste Jones, founder and owner of Oditto Gallery.
The gallery’s first iteration existed in the metaverse, a digital universe where users interact via virtual reality with digital products and each other. Jones was an early adopter, and used her digital gallery space to help artists leverage the value of their digital artwork.
The NFT offered with each piece of physical art acts as a sort of digital certificate of authenticity. NFTs are impossible to copy, hack or replace, and they are registered on a digital ledger called the blockchain, Jones said.
“Buying the right NFTs right now is like buying land in New York City in the 1800s,” she said. “There is a vast opportunity, and if the metaverse was something that was just a phase, then why would these major moguls be spending billions and billions of dollars in metaverse assets?”
She pointed to luxury brands Gucci, Rolex and Ferrari as examples of companies that offer an NFT with the purchase of a physical product. Some museums have begun buying or accepting donations of NFTs, while internationally renowned auction house Sotheby’s has launched an NFT Art Auction Department.
“This isn’t going away, and I will stand firm on that,” Jones said.
If that all sounds complicated, you’re not alone: Jones has heard a lot of questions and doubts about the value of these digital pieces of fine art.
But, she said, consider the up-and-coming Generation Alpha, which right now is about 3 years old to 12 years old.
“You look at the amount of screen time they have, and you see what they’re doing on their screens when they’re not at home, and they are playing digital games,” Jones said. “These are pay-to-play games. These are games that offer digital rewards, which give them monetization for status to own digital assets.”
With such a digital mindset, Generation Alpha is poised to shape the future of the internet, she said.
And while digital may be the future, that isn’t to say the physical will become obsolete, Jones said. “There will be a time in the not-so-far future where every art gallery will automatically sell the digital NFT with the physical art,” she said.
She also said she sees a trend toward important documents such as marriage licenses or real estate deeds being registered on the blockchain. “It’s a much more efficient way of doing business,” Jones said.
With a career in interior design, Jones found her way into the art world by offering custom-designed pieces to fit the spaces she crafted for her clients.
One of her suggestions for using the digital artwork that comes with the physical piece is to display it in a second home or on a yacht, or it can be given as a gift. The NFTs can come with what is called a token frame, which is built to the specifications of the piece and displays the digital artwork to which it is connected.
To help people understand the evolving internet, the metaverse, the blockchain and NFTs, Jones launched a YouTube channel — entitled Celeste Jones NFTs — and holds workshops and networking events.
Private viewings of the Oditto Gallery are available from 4 to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays by emailing [email protected] for a reservation. Jones also hosts art, wine and fashion events from 5 to 7 p.m. each Friday in gallery and the courtyard of the Paramount. On the first Thursday of each month, she hosts a Cryptovision networking event from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Jones considers her work to help people understand Web3 — the next stage of the internet driven by blockchain — as “onboarding.”
“You can get your feet wet,” she said. “You’re not going to get bitten.”
Though the concepts may be daunting, she sees hope in the openness of both artists and collectors. “We’re slowly taking everyone by the hand into the Web3 mindset,” Jones said.