Blue Star Contemporary’s annual Red Dot art sale and exhibit is going forward, but in a unique way that gives art patrons a chance to feel like they’re inside the Southtown gallery without actually being there.
San Antonio-based firm Stoke developed an Augmented Reality (AR) to complement the 30th edition of the Red Dot fundraiser, which opens 6 p.m. Sept. 23 and ends Oct. 4, marking Red Dot’s debut as a multi-day benefit.
Community members may book an appointment to visit Blue Star Contemporary to personally view the works of nearly 150 participating artists.
But with the COVID-19 outbreak enduring and capacity limits still in effect, Blue Star officials had to be creative about an event that normally would last 24 hours and lure hundreds of visitors on opening night.
Patrick Attwater, chief executive officer at Stoke, partnered with Blue Star and led the development of an AR program that provides users with computer-generated enhancements over the top of physical objects and reality in real time.
The digital Red Dot edition is based upon 12-foot-by-12-foot gallery footprint, placing the art space in the viewer’s physical space via smartphone or table.
People wanting to enjoy the AR experience must download an application on their smartphones or tablets through Blue Star Contemporary’s website: https://bluestarcontemporary.org.
Users may wander from gallery to gallery, read about participating artists and their works, and buy those works in real time.
“This really helped to open up the possibility of hosting an event like this, that would still have a wide-ranging an impact that we wanted it to have in this current climate,” said Mary Heathcott, Blue Star Contemporary executive director.
The app will be available for free download through Oct. 4. Blue Star Contemporary supporters will get a special preview Sept. 22.
Heathcott said it was Blue Star’s goal this year to make Red Dot more accessible and inclusive in terms of participating artists and increasing the number of visitors and potential buyers of art works.
Jacqueline McGilvray, Blue Star Contemporary’s curator and exhibitions manager, said her organization traditionally has invited artists to participate in the Red Dot sale and exhibit. But this year, Blue Star expanded its outreach with an open call for more artists.
“We revisit the list every year and try to have balance in terms of artists where they are in their career,” McGilvray explained.
“Do they have wide exposure with their collector base? Can we introduce new and emerging artists to the collector base here in San Antonio.”
Blue Star each year taps an artist and patron to formally honor as part of the Red Dot event and for their support of San Antonio’s art community. Artist César Martínez and patron Francesca Billups Mannix are this year’s honorees.
The AR Red Dot program includes includes a gallery sponsored by Ricos Products Co. and Rick Liberto dedicated to Martínez and will feature landscape components from his 2011 art work, Huizache Jaguar, as the backdrop for viewing his creation.
While Red Dot accounts for a third of Blue Star’s yearly revenue, 50% of sales proceeds go to the artists who donate their works to the event.