Seven years ago, ArtServe employee Byron Swart had an idea. He wanted to build a hip variation on the traditional gallery opening, where boundary-pushing 2D and 3D artwork would share space, for one night only, with musicians, poets and other local entertainers. In other words, he sought a multidisciplinary cultural oasis filling every inch of space in the small Fort Lauderdale library gallery.

Swart called his event Red Eye, and in its first year, in 2006, more than 600 visitors attended. The event has grown in stature, talent and patronage ever since; for the seventh annual Red Eye, slated for 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, more than 1,500 are expected to turn out.

As always, Red Eye will cut a broad swath of artistry across countless movements, ensuring that there will be enough talent on display to meet anyone’s taste. More than 100 hand-selected artists will display their pieces (three of which are sampled in this blog), as live bands The Hate Ash Buried, Astari Night, Boxwood and Speaking Volumes will create a ruckus around them. Renowned local poet Renda Writer will headline a spoken-word room, and the event’s recently added “Red Shorts” program showcases short films from local filmmakers. Fashion designer Sharon Ali will curate a runway display of fashion created by students of AIU and local designers, and that’s not all, folks: For the first time, the Japanese taiko drummers in Fushu Daiko will open the show, continuing Swart’s tradition of introducing a new element every year.

If you’re hungry at the event, Tijuana Flats Burrito Co. will serve tacos to the attendees, and food trucks (Ms. Cheezious, Mr. Latin Burger, Belia and HipPop) will be parked outside. Did I mention there’s also a graffiti arts challenge called Cans to Canvas, bringing street art into the gallery?

I had originally intended to preview this event in my Week Ahead column on Monday, but I realized there was simply too much to say about it; the Red Eye deserved its own blog, and I wouldn’t be singing its praises if I didn’t believe in the quality of the event. I attended my first Red Eye a few years back, and the element I appreciated most was the freedom. Gallery shows can be a drag if you don’t like the artist or style represented in the space; more than once I’ve shuffled into a gallery, awkwardly eyed a pretentiously overrated doodle, snuck some wine and cheese in my craw and surreptitiously slunk away.

By contrast, Red Eye provides ample opportunities to imbibe local movies, poets, fashion and music, and essentially curate your own evening, to your own sensibilities. This time, if you can’t find anything to your liking, you may want to consider the possibility that the problem is you.

Red Eye is scheduled for 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 14 at ArtServe, 1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $7 advance or $10 at the door, and each ticket includes a complementary drink at the after-party. For information, call 954/462-8190 or visit