Free Art Fridays – A Scavenger Hunt
By: Emily Chapman
For those not in the know, the #FAFATL hashtag is just a jumble of letters. But for Atlantans looking to get out into the city and search for art, scavenger hunt style, it signifies something more: Free Art Friday Atlanta.
Granted, it’s not always on Friday. But there is always art, and it is always free.
The #FAFATL hashtag ties together a loose collection of artists and collectors (often overlapping groups) on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Artists post pictures of where they’ve placed their “drops”—small, portable pieces of art— with just enough clues in the photo to help savvy searchers. First one there can grab the art, and it’s considered good form to let the artist know where their new piece has found a home.
Though the art is part of the appeal, for creators and collectors the fun is feeling like being a part of a larger community.
“One of my coolest memories was when someone contacted me noting that they were having a horrible day when they had stumbled upon a piece, and then they couldn’t stop from smiling,” said Ms. ATL, a FAFATL artist known for her art featuring a stencil of a smiling woman’s portrait. “That is probably the most rewarding part of being involved,” with the project, along with “making others smile and gifting them with something that is uplifting,” she said.
The public aspect of the experience was what initially appealed to ATreeL, a FAF collector who recently began participating as an artist. ATreeL initially became involved with FAF after discovering a piece from Evereman, one of the more well-known public artists in Atlanta, during the 2011 Living Walls festival.
ATreeL “loved the whole idea of leaving a handmade object out in a public space for an unknown person to discover.” After the initial brush with Evereman, followed by meeting Ms. ATL, ATreeL “was inspired to join in and become a maker.”
“I didn’t consider myself an artist,” ATreeL said. But, “I’ve been so inspired by attending events created by the amazing grassroots arts community in the Atlanta area.”
Bolstered by her participation in the community, ATreeL has just recently put together her first series of pieces for FAFATL. The series, named Adapt ATL, features art made from 45 adapters and records in homage to music-focused events in town.
For ATreeL, becoming a maker in the FAF community gives “a very personal, tangible way to give back to the community of folks who have nurtured and inspired me and many others through their art and through their support of the arts in the Atlanta area.”
New hunters should keep an eye out on social media sites. Artists tag their creations with #FAFATL, so a running search for the hash tag is a great way to locate potential drops and discover new artists.
It also pays to just keep an eye out in the real world. Larry Holland, a Decatur-based FAF artist, says that he enjoys, “random people who find what I’ve put out—stuff I didn’t tweet about and they just run across it.” Holland reminds new FAF participants to be courteous, as the event is about “art for all.”
Even if an aspiring collector doesn’t find the art they’re looking for, for FAF participants, much of the fun is in the hunt.
“I would hope that anyone who comes across a piece of free art would maybe look at the world a bit differently for a moment, and, taking or leaving the piece, move on with a little shift toward the brighter side, or just a bit more awareness of their public spaces,” said ATreeL. For new creators, the FAF artists are “very supportive of new makers,” she said.
“Keep your eyes open for art in the most unlikely of places,” said Ms. ATL. And remember that it’s about community—because of FAF, said Ms. ATL, “I now feel a part of this city that I love. That’s what it’s all about.”