It’s Friday, and the search is on in Traverse City. A clue has been posted—a picture of a dichroic glass pendant hanging from a tree branch near the Traverse City Wine and Art Festival. Whoever finds it gets to keep it.
A finders keepers game, Free Art Friday Traverse City has been around since May 2013. Since then, more than 100 pieces of art have been given away. On Fridays, art is hidden throughout the city for anybody to find and take home. Clues to the pieces are posted on the FAFTVC Facebook page throughout the day to help.
“Essentially, Free Art Friday is a concept, not an organization,” says Sandi Daley, an administrator of FAFTVC. “It’s just this thing that happens, and because it’s only a concept there really aren’t any rules. When something goes out, it’s completely up to the person who created it how they want to go about it.”
Anyone is welcome to look for the art or to create something to share. Artists can remain anonymous or include their name and contact information on the piece. People who find the art are asked to post a photo of themselves with the art so the artist knows where it ended up, and to let other searchers know it has been found.
“It’s fun for an artist to put something out there, kind of hiding something in plain sight so that a random person will find it,” Sandi says. “It makes their day for their art to be found and appreciated.”
Some artists like to place their piece near other art installations or galleries in the city.
“You want to lead people to other art places and events,” Sandi says. “We like people to experience other art, too, and we use the scavenger hunt to show people things in our city.”
Free Art Friday isn’t exclusive to Traverse City though. It occurs each week in cities around the world. Australia, France, Israel, Serbia, the United Kingdom and other countries have thousands of participants.
In the US, 25 states have participating cities such as Phoenix, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago. However, with seven participating locations—Grand Rapids, Detroit, Jackson, Clarkston, Lapeer, Inland Lakes and Traverse City—Michigan has the most in the US.
FAFTVC was started by Christy Spidell with the help of Lynn Blasey. They were inspired after going on a scavenger hunt in Detroit in 2013. They looked at other cities for inspiration and soon had it up and running.
The original idea for Free Art Friday was first coined by artist My Dog Sighs. He found an aluminum can discarded on the street, took it home and turned it into art. He then left it back on the street for someone to find.
“Free Art Friday can be fine art, but the very core of where it started is reclaimed materials that are turned into art or art that’s done on something like cardboard or a scrap piece of wood,” Sandi says. “That’s part of the charm of it.”
By removing price tags, Free Art Friday makes art accessible to everybody and it promotes creativity.
“In our mainstream world, art education in schools is getting cut every time we turn around,” Sandi says. “I think we are encouraged to be creative when we’re little. We have our crayons and our art supplies, but think about it, how much of that stuff do you have now? How often do you indulge that creative side of your personal being?”
Anyone who wants to participate should look at the FAFTVC Facebook page for information and can contact Sandi through a Facebook message or at [email protected] Sandi is currently looking for more artists to participate.