When I first learned about Free Art Friday Detroit (FAFDET) I was instantly intrigued. A weekly scavenger hunt for free art? This combines two of my favorite activities – scavenger hunts and getting free stuff. For those of you who have never heard of FAFDET, it’s a really simple concept. Artists (and anyone can be an artist) hide pieces of art in Detroit on Fridays, post picture clues on Facebook and Twitter, and the person that finds it gets to keep it. The only other rule is to post a picture of your find back to FB/twitter. Seemed easy enough so the kids and I decided to make a day of it on Good Friday (since we had the day off from work and school). We started the day at our friend Suzy’s house to make our works of art (acrylic on canvas) with her kids Katie and Andrew. After the art was finished we headed into the D for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants – Traffic Jam and Snug. Unfortunately our friends had to head to piano lessons at Orchestra Hall right after lunch. But before we parted ways, we were able to hide Katie’s art inside Traffic Jam and even chat with the owner. After that the kids and I were on our own! Here’s my account of the day organized into 5 lessons learned.
1. Don’t assume that your kids will want to give their art away. 3 of the 4 kids wanted to keep their paintings because it was the very best most special thing they ever made. Thankfully Katie wanted to share her abstract painting with the world or we wouldn’t have had any art to hide. (My kids ended up changing their minds later in the day.) Next time, we will make two masterpieces per kid. One to hide and one to keep. The adults will also get in on the art fun next time too. (Why should the kids have all the fun?)
2. While the concept is simple, it’s not as easy as it looks. Detroit is big and there are a lot of people participating in FAFDET. There were several clues that we “found”, but got there too late – the art was already gone. So some strategy is needed. A hypothetical example: if you are at Comerica Park and see a clue near Atwater Brewery – it would be smart NOT to drive all the way there because the art is probably already gone and while you are turning around to head back downtown you might also notice a new clue pop up for a location right next to Comerica Park which was where you just were….(ok, this might be a real example).
3. This is definitely a family friendly activity, but bring an extra adult. It gets kinda hard to monitor the FB clues AND drive the car. You find yourself yelling out strange clues to your kids like, “look for a pile of dirty snow under the people mover track”. And then when you do finally find art, you might yell to your seven year old to “Jump out of the van ! Go! Quick! Get that art!” You laugh, but it happens. After a few hours of searching, finding art becomes as important as winning an Olympic gold medal. Just trust me on this one.
4. Hiding art is almost as fun as finding art. (For some it might even be equally fun, but see the comment above about my love of getting free stuff.) There’s an “art” to hiding art. You need a good hiding spot and a good clue. It’s up to you if the clue will be easy, or if you want to be tricky. And the best part of hiding art? Seeing someone post a picture of their newly found art!
5. End the day on a high note. After several hours we FOUND SOME ART! Our find was near Comerica Park (yep, we hustled back fast enough from Atwater to get it!), and it was a cute treasure chest with 3 handmade magnets inside. A perfect find for our group of 3. We also ran into another group of “hunters”, so we got to show off our find and take a group photo. We were all happy. Then as we were walking back to to the car, Sam says, “Let’s try to find another one!!”. Nope, time to go home. But we will be back another Friday. I am hooked!