Check your nearest bus station, your tree branches, your Dumpster — there just might be a piece of free art waiting for you.
The artwork — paintings, collages, jewelry and more — is hidden around the D.C. region, through a project called ScavengArt.
Jennifer Droblyen, the artist behind the project, said she and two other artists have been hiding their works for about a month and a half, and at least three other artists will start hiding pieces soon. Hopeful art-finders can read clues about the whereabouts of the hidden art on ScavengArt’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Here are some cryptic examples:
Droblyen, who runs arts programs for Arlington County and makes her own art, said she thought of the idea years ago, but waited to start the project until she could find artists willing to give away their work for free. Her own contribution has been handmade decorative boxes, which she has taped in bags to Dumpsters, trees and U.S. Postal Service mailboxes.
“I think it just brings joy. People find it. They’re excited by it. They want to participate,” Droblyen said. She asks the artists who hide their works to attach a piece of paper encouraging finders to post about the project on Facebook or Twitter, to help the project catch more artists’ attention.
One artist Droblyen recently recruited is Sheri Bartholow of Germantown, who paints custom pet portraits and landscapes. Bartholow said she shrinks her paintings down to tiny sizes, prints them out and glues them to glass tiles to make jewelry. She’ll be hiding that jewelry in Germantown and around her workplace in Arlington, she said.
“They’re not things that are of great value, but they’re fun. Also, if people are interested, they can look me up and I can do custom work for them,” Bartholow said.
She’s happy to give away some of her work for free even if it doesn’t help her business, she said. “Maybe it’ll make somebody’s day.”
This reporter can confirm: Yes, finding a piece of ScavengArt can indeed make somebody’s day.
On Sunday, I stumbled on a poster at a bus stop not far from the Van Ness Metro station.
I quickly tweeted my appreciation at ScavengArt, as directed. And today, I got in touch with Pietro Puglisi, the artist who made my gift.
Puglisi, who goes by the mononym Ponder, explained to me that my new poster was one of a set of 10 collages he made, all layered on top of Mark Rothko paintings. He chose the Connecticut Avenue corridor for giving away his 10 collages because he knows the street gets a lot of foot traffic, he said. He’s used to appealing to a strolling audience whose eye can be caught by unexpected art: At his day job, he designs window displays for retail stores.
“I do like people just sort of finding it randomly. That sort of appeals to me,” Ponder said.
It appeals to me, too: Ponder’s poster is now hanging on my living room wall.