Art, architecture and technology are scheduled to converge at Digital Graffiti 2017 when dozens of dynamic digital art works set aglow the iconic alabaster walls, courtyards, pathways – even waterways – of Northwest, Florida's, Alys Beach.
Slated for May 19-21, this year's event is the 10th anniversary of the world’s first projection art festival, drawing as many as 200 artists from all over the globe. Presented in conjunction with Art Week South Walton, the free juried art competition on Scenic Highway 30A that awards $10,000 in cash prizes to winners in five categories, also will feature artist and curator meet-and-greet time, a culinary art celebration of wine and food, poolside time with VJ and DJ stylings and other surprises.
This year’s three-day event kicks off with a lower ticket price night on Friday and is open to all ages, making it a great outing for families to stroll the artwork alongside food trucks and beverage stations. Tickets for this night are $40 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under.
Saturday evening the event dials up a party open to those 21 and older. After a welcome cocktail event, guests will find local chefs and winemakers interspersed between art exhibits. The evening culminates at a chill scene at Caliza Pool, which will be awash with visual art. Guests can vibe on down-tempo DJ tunes, sip wine and nosh on desserts. Tickets are $125 per person.
Sunday features a relaxing brunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Arboleda Park, where guests will visit with DG artists and event winners. Tickets for this event are $40 for adults and $15 for children.
Alys Beach is already spectacular with its whitewashed structures and gorgeous pathways, says senior event manager Kelli Siler, “but to layer in all this amazing art that is two to three-stories in scale, with passionate artists there to meet and speak with you, with the complement of food and wine artisans present, you get a whole gamut — it is an entire artistic and sensory experience that is like no other,” she says.
Longtime DG curator Brett Phares says organizers work to raise the bar each year. “The maturity of the artists who entered this year made it harder for the curator to make the final list. So, we did end up bumping up the number of works to be seen; have added more projectors and are opening a new space about a half block long on the pedestrian path called The Loop.”
Again this year, festival creators invite digital artists to participate in its Artist Residency program under the direction of Phares, himself a New York-based digital artist and curator. Among this year’s residency class is Krystal Schultheiss, a motion graphic designer from Melbourne, Australia, coming to DG for her first time; returning DG veteran Robert Seidel, a Berlin-based artist working in the field of experimental film, facade projection and video installation; and Jinku Kim of Walpole, Massachusetts, who won a 2016 Curator’s Choice award for his moody work titled “What Is Seen Was Not Made Out of What Was Visible.”
This year, the artists will immerse themselves in Alys Beach, creating site-specific digital artwork for a week prior to the event in May. “Street art has that sense of immediacy, so the DG Residency relates to where the event came from – its roots – and allows the art to be seen nearly immediately after it was created, keeping it and the event experience very fresh,” says Phares. “And since there isn’t a lot of actual digital graffiti in South Walton, DG is a bit like Carnivàle, meaning we get to see 30A let its hair down.”
There are other similar events, but DG is unique in that digital art is cast directly upon on the stunning white stucco walls throughout the town instead of upon projector screens. “How architecture remakes the work into things the artist wasn’t expecting is an absolute thrill,” Phares says. “Alys Beach has so many details, it’s easy to overlook them. The festival allows us to see them with fresh eyes.”
For Alys Beach Town Architect Marieanne Khoury-Vogt, placing the town at the intersection of art and architecture is magical. “This work is normally viewed digitally, on a website say. When you are viewing it on site, you are walking through it, you are talking with others about what you are seeing and even what you are thinking to yourself. That is an immersive experience.”
Phares says the event will “hijack your neurons,” and relaxing is the best way to approach the experience. “Personal media has forced us to have an opinion about everything these days. To not have an opinion and enjoy DG just for what it is might seem Herculean, but once you start and stroll through, its fairly easy to let go.”