The art on the walls is moving.
The neon work of Whiskey Black flashes words like “good vibes,” “dopamine,” “wealth,” “desire,” and “endorsed by Zark Muckerberg” over dystopian medication branding. The graceful elegance of Marterium loops seamlessly, exploring form and color, articulating a malaise in the traditional world. Barbara Vaughn’s subtle meditations on water—ones you could imagine in the powder rooms of mountain modern homes—mimic the waves crashing on rocks outside, revealed by massive windows.
“My waterscapes present a juxtaposition of real and surreal, and the resulting ambiguity invites us to decipher the truth,” Vaughn said. “Drawn by the magnetism of water and the mystery of abstraction, I’ve endeavored to marry the two by capturing reflections of ordinary scenes in moving water.”
With a flick of the wrist, I transport across the room. Gallery owner Yanna Lantz is there too, dancing. Even her signature bun of red hair is animated in 3D. The link to this gallery will be sent out in an e-blast.
I am not in Ketchum. I am not in America. I am not in the physical realm. Inside my virtual reality headset, I am in the metaverse.
“We have clients in Singapore, in England, that literally cannot be here for this exhibition,” Lantz said. “Now it kinda feels like you can be. People can meet in this space, and they can talk to each other about art. It’s a way to experience the art without literally ever being in Idaho.
“This is the future,” Lantz continued. “People are going to go to work in here. People are going to sell art in here. People are going to sell homes in here. Remember MySpace and Facebook? People want to be able to show their personality and their collection and commodities. This is the next version of that.”
When I take off the goggles, disoriented, I return to Earth, specifically the Friesen+Lantz Gallery. Paintings on the wall have been replaced with screens exhibiting NFTs, powered by all the Wi-Fi in the building. Beige protectors conceal the cords running up the walls.
Sept. 1-5, the Friesen+Lantz gallery is hosting the NFT SV x Sonic Summit, the first ever NFT exhibition in the state of Idaho.
“This is the next evolution in the world of fine art,” Lantz said.
On Friday, Sept. 2, they will open their doors for the Gallery Walk from 5-7 p.m. DJ Funkhauzen will spin some tunes. Nosotros will provide tequila and Stanton Barrett will provide wine.
On Saturday, Sept. 3, they will host the panel “What is an NFT?” from 5-5:45 p.m., discussing the blockchain, Web3 and the metaverse. Then, at 6-7 p.m., they will host the “Music NFTs x Sonic Summit panel” with Dot, Cooper and Turley Lenny Skolnik.
“This is an educational community event about the future of art,” Lantz said.
On Friday, Sept. 2, and Saturday, Sept. 3, Whiskey’s will host afterparties starting at 9 p.m. with live music. Tickets cost $15 ahead of time and $20 at the door.
Those who come to the “What Is an NFT?” panel will be able to experience the VR version of the gallery.
“We know it can be a little intimidating, but the more people we can get in the door talking about this, the more we’re going to learn and rise together,” Lantz said.
NFT stands for non-fungible token.
“Think about a dollar bill,” Lantz said. “A dollar bill is fungible. Every dollar bill is exactly equivalent to another dollar bill. They’re interchangeable, they’re fungible. Non-fungible means it’s unique. There’s only one.
NFTs have a specific code and contract attached to the piece of digital art in the blockchain. That way, people can track ownership.
“In a gallery, that’s so important. You buy a $50,000 painting and a piece of paper that says it’s yours. Better keep it in your safe and hope your safe doesn’t burn down,” Lantz said.
The blockchain facilitates authentication—no more debating the provenance of a Picasso or Matisse
“Now, we’ll never have that problem again. It’s real or it’s not,” Lantz said. “That’s really exciting to me.”
There is also a way to build-in resale value.
“The poor Van Gogh estate. Millions and millions and millions in sales, and they don’t get anything,” Lantz said. “That’s not the way it should be.”
We are now entering Web3, Lantz said. Web1 was the primitive internet of the early 90s. Web2 was the rise of social media and all of its influence.
“This will be extremely important in the future,” Lantz said. “NFTs might not be what they are today, but everyone is going to be using them in some way. And I don’t want to be left behind.”
When Lantz took over the gallery, she wanted to see what was new and exciting in the art world. NFTs rose to prominence during the COVID lockdown. In March 2021, Beeple sold an NFT for $69 million at Christie’s. That’s when Lantz started paying attention.
“I’m a big proponent of doing your own research. Don’t take anything I say for granted. I’m not an investment advisor,” Lantz said.
She consumed all the podcasts and articles she could find.
“What is this? Why is it important? The more I read the more it just seemed to make sense,” Lantz said. “I’m finding this connects more easily with the younger generation. One of my missions at this gallery is to make art accessible.”
Around the corner at the Friesen+Lantz Gallery, there are still oil paintings hung up.
“I’m trying to bridge those two worlds,” Lantz said. “I want to be clear: One is not better than the other. Physical art will always be important. This is giving a voice to a new generation of artists in a beautiful way.”
Those who buy an NFT Whiskey Black will also get an 8x8 print.
“Most of our collectors are used to something more traditional like this,” Lantz said. “This is really showing how you can have both. The NFT is tied to both the physical and to the digital.”
NFTs also allow artists to push beyond static images.
“Friesen + Lantz’s invitation to participate in the Sun Valley NFT Summit prompted me to create my first purely digital artwork, and first moving images,” Vaughn said. This new format allows the viewer to experience the mesmerizing movement of water that is the inspiration and subject of my still photographs.”
Lantz handpicked the three artists from a list of 50.
Whiskey Black’s real name is Ethan Burnette.
“The world is rapidly changing, and yet fine art seems to be aggressively steeped in tradition and has been for a long time, but maybe it doesn’t have to be that way,” Burnette said. “In art, context and value change based on how something is positioned. Sometimes, it’s not what’s up on the wall, it’s what room it’s in. NFTs are new and exciting in a lot of ways, but I’d like to caveat and say, don’t just buy something because it’s new and shiney. Buy it because you like it.”
This is the first time Lantz has worked with German artist Marterium, already established in the NFT world.
“We never get to work with artists from Europe because there’s so many logistical problems. And this is literally a dropbox folder—download the file here you go,” Lantz said.
Bankless, a cryptocurrency podcast, sponsors the Summit. So does SuperRare, one of the leading marketplaces for NFT’s.
“Anybody can make an NFT, essentially. Once people realized that, there was a lot of unfiltered, uncurated works. Art is art, and then there’s a lot of crap,” Lantz said.
NFTs allow direct communication from artists to clients. They can send gifts or invitations to events.
“It’s this new way of community as well. Of course, you can do that with an email, but it’s a lot easier when it’s all connected on the blockchain,” Lantz said.
Musicians can upload their music to the blockchain, and people can own part of a song or the entire thing. Snoop Dogg has released NFTs. Dot, the NFT musician speaking at the panel and performing at Whiskey’s, is hosting a retreat this weekend for her collectors.
“This unlocks a whole new kind of experience and opportunity for both artist and fan,” Dot said. “To be able to write for performance and distribution contexts of my own creation is exactly why I was drawn to Web3 in the first place, and is very important to me as an independent artist.”
Said Lantz: “You’re getting funding, as an artist, in a different way. You don’t need to be a slave to a record label.”
There have even been VR concerts in the metaverse, with famous artists’ avatars performing.
“You don’t have to worry about bathrooms. You don’t have to worry about people vomiting on the floor,” Lantz said. “It’s just a different experience.”
The NFT’s at the Summit range from $990-$7,000. Collectors can install a screen in their home and present works on slideshow.
“I’ve never had that experience before,” Lantz said. “Being able to change your art with no installation, no shipping, no worries.” ￼
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