Arts / Museums

City-wide Scavenger Hunt Hits Houston

Follow the Clues, Scour the Town and Free Art is Yours

BY Faith Nguyen // 09.17.15

Social media is everywhere, and while it’s easy to get lost amid the plethora of pictures and messages, it is now simpler than ever to bring people together in new ways. Take #FreeArtFriday, for example, a weekly hashtag that promotes free artwork in cities around the globe. PaperCity searched through Instagram and selected some of our favorite pieces that have been used in this initiative.

Artists create a work of art, place it in a public area, and post a photo of the art on Instagram with a hint about the location, thus beginning a city-wide scavenger hunt. The description should contain the hashtag #FreeArtFriday, along with the city’s local Free Art Friday Hashtag (In Houston’s case, it’s #HTXFreeArtFriday). The art can be in any form: sculptures, paintings, or photographs. Individuals then race to find the piece of art before anyone else does, then comment back on the Instagram post announcing they found it.

#FreeArtFriday lets people collect art for free – a more accessible option for those who want to own art without the often hefty price tag. By putting their art on the streets as a gift for passersby to take, artists engage with the community and create new fans. The movement has become so substantial that it’s starting to create a dominant presence in places like Paris and Ireland.

A local Houston participant is Jessi Bowman, the exhibitions and website coordinator for the Houston Center for Photography (HCP). Recently, Bowman hid two photographs donated by center instructors Laura Burlton and Teresa Munisteri. She then posted hints to the locations on HCP’s Instagram.

Bowman said she wanted people to “take notice of all the amazing artists that [they] have showing at HCP, as well as those living and working in the field.” One of Houston Center for Photography’s goals is to find different ways to encourage collaboration between artists and the community, and participating in the scavenger hunt helps “boost the confidence of those who are just getting started as artists, as well as those who have been creating for years,” says Bowman. “It is always a nice feeling to be wanted and to be a part of something bigger than you.”

PaperCity will hide one of our photographer’s exclusive pieces, featured in this article, around Houston tomorrow (Friday, September 18). Keep checking our Instagram for updates on where we put it, and good luck!

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