SuperRare, a digital art market on Ethereum’s blockchain, powered by the RARE token, debuted its first pop-up gallery on May 19 in SoHo, the historic New York City neighborhood known internationally for its affinity for artists and their artwork.
The event was hosted at the new location of The Block Gallery, which relocated from Brooklyn to SoHo after Hurricane Sandy. The Block Gallery has been curating events since 2010 and has worked with SuperRare since January of this year. It is dedicated to showcasing contemporary art from emerging artists worldwide.
SuperRare’s pop-up gallery featured works by artists including Christian Holstad, Jason Freeny, Nomi Chi, and more — many of whom have been featured in previous editions of Art Basel Miami Beach or Frieze Art Fair in London.
The gallery’s opening is a prime example of the metaverse, the digital reality that exists both in the collective imagination and on a network of computer nodes. The gallery looks to establish its physical footprint in art history.
At a two-story exhibition at SuperRare, curators An Rong and Mika Bar-On Nesher have pulled pieces from 15 artists that examine sci-fi and cyberpunk themes—ideas integral to the concept of “metaverses.” The gallery will be open until August 28 and is looking to revolutionize how we relate to art in an increasingly digital age.
The First NFT of SuperRare
Before pioneering virtual reality, SoHo was already famous for a different kind of innovation. In the 1960s, artists flocked to the district because it offered open spaces, large windows, and cheap rent. But the following decade brought on problems that prompted some of its tenants to move out.
This is where SuperRare comes in. The startup uses blockchain technology to help brands create digital scarcity with their products. Its first client is New York-based jewelry company SoHo Diamonds which has partnered with the company to create a limited-edition line of diamonds that will be sold on its platform using the first NFT ever created on Solidity.
Despite a tumultuous past, SoHo has continued to flourish. Today, the neighborhood is known for being an artistic hub where people can come together and explore the meaning of art.
SuperRare’s platform will make this process seamless and simple for users worldwide. It allows anyone to create their tokens that reflect their passions and interests through blockchain technology so that they can share them with others in a secure manner.
NFTs Join the Art Revolution.
When the digital marketplace was just a small startup, it once operated out of a coffee shop in Brooklyn, New York. The gallery found a home in the bustling streets of SoHo when Chief Product Officer Jonathan Perkins and CEO John Crain traveled through Europe with backpacks full of iPads, constructing DIY gallery pop-ups where they could.
The art and crypto worlds have been two disconnected worlds for a long time. But now, a new technology is about to change that. One of the most exciting things about NFTs is how they can help artists get their work out there in a new way.
Mika Bar-On Nesher has helped curate exhibitions at major museums, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and is the production head at Hauser & Wirth. She explains a shift in how non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are used and compares that shift to her background in traditional art.
“It completely revolutionizes the structures that exist right now in a way that has implications for all of us,” Nesher said. “It’s not a trend, it’s a revolution in the way we monetize and experience art.”
Into The Future, We Grow
During CoinDesk’s Road to Consensus “The Future of NFT Investing” Twitter spaces, Flowty founder Michael Levy recently said, “It can be dangerous to take old school valuation approaches from older technology or from previous generations of collectibles and utility products and apply that sort of valuation thinking to future projects.”
When An Rong, the exhibition’s senior curator, began researching new technologies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), she discovered that combining the two could solve many of the museum’s problems.
Her first experience with NFTs came after earning her museum studies degree earlier this year. She jokingly shares a conversation with a friend and Ethereum researcher who suggested that “a blockchain could solve everything.”
The non-fungible token (NFT) industry has taken the cryptosphere by storm. Because of their unique nature and the wide array of use cases for which they’re applicable, NFTs are projected to continue expanding in droves.
In January, banking behemoth Jefferies adjusted its market capitalization for NFTs to more than $35 billion for 2022. It predicts the industry will be worth upwards of $80 billion by 2025.
Getting in Meant Changing the Narrative
In the fall of 2012, NESSgraphics was nearing the end of his studies at the University of Connecticut. Although he found it hard to concentrate on his digital design classes, he knew that his passion lay outside the classroom: he wanted to start his own graphic designing business.
When asked about the gallery’s opening, NESSgraphics said, “I realized if I just kept doing what I do in these classes, I was just going to get spit out with everyone else, and essentially be just another number.”
After turning to social media for exposure, he posted his artwork on Instagram and attracted the attention of industry executives. Then, he started making graphics for pop-rock band Imagine Dragons, who seemed to be a better fit. And so, he pursued the unknown.
But in 2020, the unknown was plagued by a pandemic called COVID-19. This pandemic destroyed virtually all of the live music industry, and although NESSgraphics produced art for other artists such as Megan Thee Stallion, those streaming shows weren’t the same. By that time, NESSgraphics had stumbled across SuperRare and dove right in.
Having left his job in the live music industry, where he was expected to create visuals based on other people’s visions, NESSgraphics was able to work on projects for longer periods while generating a higher income level for himself via NFTs and SuperRare.
For example, five weeks of work creating visual images for Imagine Dragons resulted in just $18,000 flowing into his pockets. However, since his foray into NFTs, NESSgraphics has made upwards of six figures a year, roughly $120,000.
Sure, it was good, but it’s nothing compared to the money you can make with a Non-Fiction Trade book. “You can make that in a day,” he said, in addition to the royalties in the background.
For example, there’s a unique NFT called R4G3QU1T that was minted on SuperRare by NESSgraphics a month ago. A user named “artifaction” bought it for 55 ETH ($115,032) nine days ago.
The story of NESSgraphics is unique because there isn’t another NESSgraphics nor another “R4G3QU1T” NFT, and yet his lived experiences in both the physical and digital world, reflect the larger sentiment where artists who specialize in digital creations are empowered and celebrated.
The artist behind this work is a talented young man named Alex Ness, a 25-year-old. He is known for his illustrations of popular culture and geekdom. His first series was inspired by the popular game Fortnite, which shows the characters in an original style never seen before.
SuperRare is setting a new precedent for art galleries and museums. With an app allowing consumers to buy these digital assets directly from their phones, the gallery can help make NFTs more tangible than ever.
By bringing NFTs into a physical space, this new set of digital assets is given a fresh distinction. This may draw attention to the underlying technology that drives these secure digital collectibles, which could do wonders for their widespread adoption.
Featured Image: Megapixl © Zimmytws
Ray Schuetz received a Masters Degree in computer science from The University of Texas (Austin). Ray has been working as a full-time blockchain consultant for the past 3 years. In his spare time, Ray enjoys writing for EthereumCryptocurrency.com and other crypto news publications.