Residents scour city for free art every Friday Artists hide free art around Detroit
By MATT HARDING | The South EndUpdated: 04/07/12 9:06pmTools
Free Art Friday Detroit is part of Detroit’s ever-solidifying artistic community.
The idea is simple: artists of any kind create a custom piece of art — from paintings to sculptures, and anything in between — and hide it somewhere in Detroit. The artists post a photo on Facebook and Twitter of the place where they dropped it as a clue. Anyone who finds the art is free to keep it; however, FAFDET asks that the finder post a photo of the discovered art on a social networking site.
According to Sara Frey, a copywriter at Skidmore Studio, a Detroit design studio, Free Art Friday started here in January, after her colleagues, Gary Spondike and John Latin learned about it during a
trip to Atlanta.
Spondike said, “The idea that we can engage a variety of artists and get art in the hands of a public audience is pretty incredible. We have this great city as a backdrop and Free Art Friday gives us another reason to encourage people to get out and explore it.”
From just a couple of art pieces in January to almost 20 by March 23, FAFDET is seeing terrific growth in participation, as well as drop locations. While most of the drops are still in the Midtown and Downtown areas, art has been left in Corktown, New Center and even on Belle Isle.
One participant, Allen Grahlman, 41, of Detroit, became involved with FAFDET during the time of its inception when he noticed a framed piece of artwork near the Detroit Public Library’s Skillman
Branch while walking his dog, Otis.
Since that time, he’s found another piece of art with Otis. He said, “We look forward to our Friday walks!”
Another participant, who goes by Agent Love, thinks FAFDET is a great thing for Detroit, saying, “It gets people excited about being in the city.”
TJ Samuels of Bloomfield Hills emphasizes the same thing. He likes that FAFDET allows people to explore Detroit, adding that it gives people already in the city a reason to look at it differently.
Last Friday, I decided to try out Free Art Friday myself. At around noon, I grabbed the three photographs I’d be scattering in the city, my bicycle and my winter coat.
I pedaled down Cass Avenue as the rain turned into hail.
I hadn’t passed Alexandrine and I was soaking wet. After making it downtown, I considered places where I could hide my photos.
Even though they were in plastic sleeves, I did not want them to be left uncovered. One went by the Detroit People Mover’s Times Square station. I placed another in a newspaper stand near Harmonie Park, and dropped the final photo outside of the Detroit Opera House.
Aside from being able to share my work with others, I thought the best part of FAFDET was trying to find the work of others.
The social media aspect of Free Art Friday allows you to go on your phone and keep up with any updates on Facebook or Twitter. While seeking cover at the Rosa Parks Transit Center, I felt engaged with the process the entire time — it was exciting.
After searching some places where art had been left, I realized they had all been found. I headed back to Wayne State without any art, or feeling in my fingers and toes.
However, I did come back with great satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and the hope that next Friday is a little dryer.
For more information on how to participate, visit www.facebook.com/FAFDET.