Future Galerie - Chicago's Hotbed of Web3 Innovation

Future Galerie - Chicago's Hotbed of Web3 Innovation

Chicago is quickly becoming THE “Web3 City” and Future Galerie is leading the culture shift. Before backing such a claim, I want to quickly provide context on the lens I’m viewing this from. I’m a Cyber Security Engineer by trade. I’ve been to several BlackHat (hacker) conferences, two ETHDenvers, two Dubai Crypto Expos, and NFT NYC. I’ve worked for crypto.com at the management level, and have been “in tech” for over 10 years. Tech gatherings aren’t new to me, but experiencing a genuine Web3 culture shift is.

ETH Denver is a great dev conference, but there is no dodging the fact that it is geared toward the HIGHLY-technical. Not to mention I’ve never really enjoyed any of the social events. The after parties cater exclusively to the techies, and as such, they’re all of the predictable EDM “fist pump” variety. Dubai events attract some of the biggest names in innovation, but their social events usually end up feeling like The Fxckboi Olympics. NFTNYC is admittedly great (and diverse), but it seems to be the conference where NFT projects swing for the fences on one time, in-real-life (IRL) experiences in hopes of gathering the most twitter clout. How much of city-wide Web3 culture remains when NFTNYC is done is currently unknown to me.

As for the Chi, there is no “NFTChicago” and I’m loving that. There is no blow-off top euphoria that disappears a week after an event. Instead, there’s this ever present feeling of curiosity, exploration, and genuine authenticity that’s simply addicting. The first Future Galerie event was in May of 2022, 6pm to 11:30pm. 2.5 hours of panelists, 3 hours of networking and chill. The second just occurred October 1st, 1:30pm - Midnight. Nearly 12 straight hours, exhausting right? Nah it’s perfect, allow me to paint the picture.

I take the elevator to the 9th floor of the mall where an entire wing of the mall is reserved for this event. I walk up to the check-in counter and present the woman with a QR code on my phone. The QR code is from the tokenproof app which verifies the “Future Galerie AirOrb” NFT that was sent to my wallet for attending the first event. That part alone is so subtle but so significant. This is a typical process for those who have been to ApeFest or other “token gated” events, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it leveraged for a space I’m becoming “a regular” at.  It’s the slow introduction and integration of web3 technology into our daily life. Plus it didn’t hurt that I received three drink tickets for being a returning attendee.

Too late to catch the “Architecture in the Metaverse” discussion that featured Architects from the international architecture firm Zaha Hadid (no big deal), but early enough to share a sofa with two web3 enthusiasts I didn’t know but were happy to share the seat with me. The topic was “Generative Fine Art” with speakers @mad_pinney, @philipbell_, and @cryptobauhaus all of which shared insight into what the generative art process was like, and why someone might want to collect generative art over physical art.

Next panel consisted of @theBreaux, @heymkodj, @looneystein, @logik, and @GoldiesNFTArt. Goldie just released a Web3 proofed sneaker built by the magicians at @0x0zAgency (i’ll have to do a deep dive into their genius in a separate article), Logik is a former creative director at Google who recently did a collaboration with the Chicago Bulls, MKODJ is a resident artist at the Ambassador Hotel, and Breaux a multi-disciplinary artist championing mental health and was vulnerable enough to open up about his own story in front of a group of strangers.

Scanning the room you see the artists, the fashion people, the hypebeasts, the techies, AND investors. A beautiful organic mashup of the Web3 curious and it seemed perfectly welcoming and inclusive to all. The night would go on to host several DJs as giant augmented reality art popped out from giant screens, several djs providing a wide variety of music, merch, and seemingly endless networking to the point where i might show up to the next event with a shirt that simply says “yo, let me get your twitter/ig”.

If this was the only Web3 event Chicago offered, I probably wouldn’t be writing this article but I see too much brewing. ImNotArt NFT Gallery, TUAN and his Baddies collection, OurGuild onboarding and educating the underserved, Joe’s Imports launching an NFT wine collection, @WillZwey doing a live mint event of her NFT collection, 0x0zAgency launching their “Web3 unplugged” events. Something special is growing here in the Chi and I will be here to cover it with all of you.