Photo Courtesy Doug Rapp

VENICE -Venice has always been home to innovative artists and now it’s home to the latest digital frontier, NFTs.

Bright Moments, an NFT gallery at 62 Windward Circle, held an opening celebration Thursday night and opened to the public Monday.

An NFT, or non-fungible token, is a digital representation of a collector’s item whether that be a piece of art, a short video clip or music, according to materials provided by the gallery.

“It’s great,” said gallery co-founder Seth Goldstein of the opening celebration, which drew around 200 people. “We got a really good, diverse mixture of people like crypto whales (high-volume crypto-currency dealers) crypto punks, artists, and old school Venice Beach folks.”

Outside in front of the gallery, the nearby Townhouse bar served drinks while Tacos Sin Karma offered vegan Mexican fare and a DJ played upbeat dance music. Inside the gallery, Black Nile played a musical tribute to jazz great Rahsaan Roland Kirk for a limited capacity audience.

“The goal is to have a number of shows/exhibits over the course of the summer to promote local Venice artists,” said Goldstein, “and to bring Venice collectors the opportunity to learn how to collect this new kind of art.”

Goldstein, who is partners with businessman Louie Ryan in opening the gallery, said Bright Moments will be a DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization. A DAO is an organization run by computer programs controlled by members but without a central government.

“The goal is to build a leaderless gallery system,” Goldstein told technology website Decrypt in April. “If the idea works,” he added, “we can expand the network to galleries anywhere." 

Goldstein said Bright Moments has a board of 40 founders, each of whom gets BRT tokens to use as governance tokens for the DAO.

Jim Budman, a local artist with a studio on Vernon, is on the founders’ board. He said he got involved when another artist, Brian Floats, using his studio told him about Bright Moments.

“I’m still new to NFT myself,” Budman said. “There are so many people out there who have read about it or heard about it but just don’t understand it.”

“The location of the gallery is terrific. Right under the Venice sign. It’s bringing NFT art to Venice,” Budman said, adding he thinks it’s the first NFT gallery in Los Angeles.

Phil Mohun, another board member and self-described “tech guy behind the scenes,” said he was looking forward to working on the “Crypto Venetians” project at Bright Moments.

Crypto Venetians will be a limited-release NFT based on attributes from real-life characters with a Venice connection.

“These are based on people—there’s plenty of characters in Venice, right?” Mohun said. He added there are enough attributes to combine to create 200,000 unique crypto Venetians.

Mohun said a hard limit of only 1,000-1,200 crypto Venetians will be minted. He said most will be algorithmically generated but there will be 10 “rare Venetians,” such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Charlie Chaplin.

Patrons have to visit the gallery in person to buy a crypto Venetian for the chance to get a unique one.

“Think about this like a combination of Willa Wonka and The Chocolate Factory meets MLB baseball cards,” Mohun said.

The gallery is open seven days a week from noon to 7 p.m. Current NFT displays change based on bidding but check the gallery’s website for the latest displays.

Upcoming private events include Jeff Davis’ “Art Blocks” on June 24 and Yonmeister’s “NFT Homie Party” on July 8.  

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Born in Kentucky, Doug Rapp now calls 90291 home. Before joining the Venice Current, his writing appeared in outlets throughout the Midwest. He is also a script analyst for writing competitions in L.A. and New York City.