Nancy and Marie, Brussels, Belgium, 2013

Nancy and Marie, Brussels, Belgium, 2013
M. Sharkey

Artopia III Promises to Arouse Your Senses

If there's one thing guests can anticipate from the depth of creativity that defines Artopia III, it's a feast for the senses. Think three hours of nonstop entertainment, interactive experiences, and surprises, says Andy Perrott, chairman of Artopia III, who promises a gamut of performances and artistic expression, from musical performers and dancers to theater elements and a fashion show.

"There won't be a moment the whole night there isn't something going on," he adds.

But there's much more to Artopia III than its range of artistic expression. Its variety of fine arts is representative of the event's broader goal: to integrate a variety of people in one place. Produced by the GLBX (Gay & Lesbian Business Exchange) Council of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, Artopia originated as a way to bring all kinds of people in the community together to mix and mingle for an entertaining night out, Perrott says. Three years later, it continues to do just that.

"It's cool because it brings a huge portion of Fort Lauderdale's gay life and business community together... people who wouldn't necessarily show up at the same party, for a social and entertaining evening to make new friends, contacts, and relationships," Perrott says.

Why art? It's a medium that connects and unites people. As Perrott puts it, art is something everyone has in common. And it's even better when the various shapes, mediums, and forms of this unifying expression converge to tantalize the senses.

For the eyes, there will be the intimate and self-aware photographs from M. Sharkey's series Queer Kids, which documents the lives and experiences of LGBT youth around the world. A visual counterpart to the voice of their struggles, the photographs portray their subjects with a declaration of strength and dignity.

One thing you should really set your sights on is Light Up the Night, says Perrott, referring to the night's cap-off performance. "This show is really going to surprise people... It's an incredible light and illusion show that completely transforms," he says, remaining tight-lipped about details.

Ears will come alive at the sound of the "musical members' incredibly powerful moving performances," which Perrott, who considers this his favorite piece of the night, says will stop people in their tracks to listen.

Touch will be heightened with a 3D interactive virtual-reality painting station in which guests can put on goggles, grab a remote, and create art themselves while everyone watches on the monitors above.

No matter what calls out to your senses, one thing is certain: At Artopia III, there's something for everyone.

Artopia III
7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, September 24, at NSU Art Museum, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-621-1350; Tickets cost $100 for general admission and $150 for VIP.

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