Artist Alexandra Grant and actor Keanu Reeves (image courtesy FLUF World)

Alexandra Grant is a Los Angeles–based visual artist who examines language and written texts through painting, drawing, sculpture, video, and other media — and despite her prodigious art career, many know her because of her romantic association with actor Keanu Reeves.

“I think every single person I knew called me in the first week of November, and that’s fascinating,” Grant told Vogue after the pair were seen holding hands at a Los Angeles art gala. “But the question I’ve been asking in all of this is: ‘What is the opportunity for good?’”

Apparently the answer — at least in part — is virtual art. Grant and Reeves both serve as advisors to the newly launched Futureverse Foundation, a philanthropic enterprise out of Non Fungible Labs, a New Zealand-based NFT- and blockchain-based technology company whose goal is to develop “a wide range of real-world applications for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on our mission to empower the world’s creatives.”

Here the unstoppable force meets the unmovable object: Can the universally acknowledged goodness of Keanu Reeves (which also extends to his choice in partner) redeem the conceptually tragic (and lately, financially unstable) reality of digital art? We’re about to find out, whether we like it or not, as the Futureverse Foundation will make grants to support “diverse and underrepresented artists and nurture their unique artistry on global platforms,” according to a press release announcing the launch. The Futureverse Foundation additionally aims to keep the Metaverse “widely accessible, healthy, and evolving” — which is a good idea, since it currently appears to be a Wild West of entitled White men behaving irresponsibly under largely unregulated conditions.

“I am honored to be joining Non-Fungible Labs’ efforts in cooperation with Alexandra Grant for the extraordinary program and opportunity of the Futureverse Foundation, in support of artists and creators globally,” Reeves said.

To kick off the launch of Futureverse, which will distribute grants based on a nomination process, Non-Fungible Labs has given €100,000 (~$104,485) to writer, filmmaker, and art historian Nana Oforiatta Ayim to support her efforts for the Ghanaian Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. Oforiatta Ayim’s curatorial concept is based on a mobile museum, showcasing the work of Na Chainkua Reindorf, Afroscope, and Diego Araúja in an exhibition designed by architect DK Osseo Asare.

“Funding for the arts is a challenge for every artist and arts non-profit,” Grant said in a statement. “Dreaming up a new model for arts philanthropy with the Non-Fungible Labs team that can have a lasting impact in both the digital and real realms has been one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on, that has already had real impact. Our creative future is going to be lived between the real and the digital, and it’s our responsibility to include more people in that creative space.”

When you think about it, it’s sort of a reverse-Matrix, where people plug into the virtual world to earn money through digital art (allegedly), and then parlay those earnings back to the physical world to help artists … do whatever artists are doing these days. Make NFTs, maybe? As Reeves once famously said: “Whoa.”

Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, and multimedia artist. She has shown work in New York, Seattle, Columbus and Toledo, OH, and Detroit — including at the Detroit Institute of Arts....