Where have I been? I just stumbled on this art movement that has been happening around the world for several years now. It’s called Free Art Friday. There are variations on the theme. It begins when artists create a painting, sketch, sculpture or installation and leave it in a public place. The piece can then be picked up by anyone who can keep it as their own. Finders are encouraged to use email, Facebook or Twitter to connect with the artist, post a photo and tell them how and where they found it. A quick internet search lead me to this blog connected to The Portsmouth Creative Movement in the UK. They say that My dog sighs has been doing this since 2006.
Sara Frey of Skidmore Studios in Detroit decided to start Free Art Friday in Detroit (FAFDet) after experiencing it in Atlanta. The Detroit version encourages artists to post a photo on their Facebook page and give clues, kind of like a scavenger hunt, to where it can be found. Frey is quoted saying that this type of fun initiative meshes with their studios vision to “promote creativity, celebrate art in all its forms and encourage people to explore the city.”
I was the happy recipient of free art once. Artist friends called it”Random Act of Art.” They would leave small pieces of art; greeting cards or artist trading cards, in public, as an act of gratitude. This Psychology Today article talks about it. What happened to me was slightly different. We were out of the country in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2009. We were staying in Bled, but made the trip to Ljubljana for the Sunday Flea Market. We had just parked the car and began walking along the river. The market runs between the Triple Bridge and Cobbler Bridge. It was a beautiful blue sky day and the market was bustling with buyers and sellers. I was headed for the first table, which I could see had some small religious statuary, framed paintings, books, jewelry and I was eager to see what else. This woman, about my age, intercepted me. I wasn’t sure what she was up to, but before I could say anything she handed me this tiny plastic package. Inside was this sweet embroidered heart. She spoke english, and said that she had decided to give a gift of art to a random person she encountered at the market. You would have thought I had been selected won the lottery. It was such a delightful experience, which was enhanced by a warm feeling of being welcomed as a stranger in my mother’s ancestral home.
Below are photos of me and the Free Art.
Having been a recipient, I’m trying to figure out how I can participate. Does this concept match my goals as an artist? So much of what I create is vulnerable to being broken.
I wonder, what do other artists think about this idea?
yes I say let’s do it in Ann Arbor…looks easy enough…I don’t know Detroit well enough to give clues…not sure I know Ann Arbor well enough to give clues either…but I think it would be awesome fun. It would also be a great way to learn about Detroit too…so I say let’s participate and then create our own….This Rocks!!
I’m hoping to participate in this, just not sure when and where. Maybe we can do something next Friday???
To me the encouragement for the finder to post about discovering the artwork seems to diminish the project. If the art is left for a stranger to find (or given to a stranger) shouldn’t that be enough? I know, the finder doesn’t have to post about finding the art or contact the artist, but they’ll know the artist wants them to and they probably will. Our me-centered, social media world drives us to want the satisfaction of knowing someone found (or will find, in the case of the scavenger hunt) the art and appreciates it; we want to know we’ve made someone’s day. And we want other people to know as well. It’s still giving away art and maybe touching someone else’s heart, but it’s as much centered on the giver as the receiver.
In any case I hope you write about this if you take part in Free Art Friday.
PS. I don’t mean to be a sourpuss. I like the idea of creative exchange and art promoting exploration (in the case of a scavenger hunt) and connecting with others. I just find that since social media so much of what we do is ultimately a circular route back to ourselves.
I appreciate the dialogue. I was hoping to hear from more artists. I love the idea of sharing art and connecting with a larger community. I hear what you are saying about being “me centered”, but I fear so much of the art I create has me at the center. Anyway, thank you for sharing your thoughts and giving me more to ponder. I will keep you posted.
I have been doing it with the jafagirls for quite a few years and I don’t relate to the me centered concept at all, it is about sharing your art with the world and learning to create and let go without boundaries and restrictions. I have known artists create mini poetry books, textile arts etc. Anyway, if you check out the free art friday blog you will see examples from around the world. some of us put our names on the work, others don’t, but my experience has been that people finding the work really enjoy knowing who did it, and even dropping and line to say thank you.
Thank you. I love the definition of on your Website. “Found Art” is art made with the intent to be left in public spaces and taken home and enjoyed. It’s our way of sharing our work and bringing a little cheer into the world.”
I also like the thought that it might start a conversation, if not with the artist and the very least about the art.
giving feels good either way you slice it. when I give to the humane society, i know who recieves it, maybe i don’t know every dog and cat personally but I know where the money goes…. if an artist wants to share themselves through their work with the world in a very random way, why is it self centered to see someone happy to find it and post that moment? i could hide in the bushes and get the same result….. i feel that my art is a piece of me, my point of view, my hand, my expression… is it really self centered to see the person on the other end recieve a bit of that? i guess watching your kids open presents for their birthday is pretty self centered too…..
Thank you Jing,
I agree with what you are saying about art being a way to share a piece of you. Sometimes I think those of us who create objects of art on a regular basis, forget that there are people out there who don’t habitually do what we do.
I’d like to believe that something I created and choose to give, would bring a smile to someone’s face.
Does it diminish my gift to want to see that smile?