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Fort Lauderdale art party RedEye sets its sights on virtual reality

RedEye, the provocative summer art event known for its street murals and graffiti, is setting its sights on virtual reality.

The most ambitious work at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale may be SoulKeeper VR, a video game set in a realm of magic spells, dragons, zombies, knights and perilous dungeons. The role-playing game, which requires a virtual-reality headset to play, is the brainchild of Myron Mortakis and his team of five developers at the Weston-based design company Helm Systems.

On Saturday, July 14, Mortakis and company will demonstrate SoulKeeper VR to visitors at the 12th annual pop-culture party, this year stuffing ArtServe with 212 works by 108 artists. This year’s edition is branded “RedEye: Beyond,” a theme that tips its hat to RedEye’s evolution beyond street art and to the influence of virtual reality and other “big waves” emerging on South Florida’s art scene, ArtServe organizer Jay Abbate says.

“We’re trying to keep it as fresh as possible. We’re trying to evolve,” Abbate says of RedEye. “VR art seems to be the next wave, just as graffiti art was six years ago. The artists who once created paintings at RedEye are now graffiti superstars at Art Basel.”

South Florida has reached peak street-art saturation, Abbate says, with ubiquitous murals covering walls in Wynwood, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. This year, Abbate wants RedEye to be an artist incubator for local game designers and filmmakers.

Along with SoulKeeper VR, the party will feature a long list of local creatives taking part in the night of live music, painting, standup comedy and fashion. RedEye’s film festival will feature 18 shorts starring locals and big-name actors, including Simon Helberg (“Big Bang Theory”), Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”) and Missy Pyle (“Inside Amy Schumer,” “Another Period”).

The party expands to four stages this year, Abbate says, to better accommodate RedEye’s 21 musicians, led by New York-based headliner Big Sounds Better. Decorating the walls are RedEye’s usual pop culture-inspired works, including portraits of Billy Idol and Bob Dylan and visions of an apocalyptic Wynwood.

Parking is free at nearby St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church (spaces fill quickly, so arrive early), but costs $6 at War Memorial Auditorium (800 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale). An afterparty will begin at 9:30 p.m. at Tula Bistro and Garden (818 NE Fourth Ave.) in the MASS District with drink specials and more live music.

“RedEye: Beyond” will take place Saturday, July 14, at ArtServe, 1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., in Fort Lauderdale. Admission is $15-$20, $100 for VIP. The exhibit will close July 27. Call 954-462-8190 or go to ArtServe.org.

pvalys@southflorida.com or 954-356-4364

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