After 12 years, a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for many local artists and art lovers remains refreshingly unchanged.
Sure, Art Scavenger Hunt is bigger than before, but it's still all about people running around a designated area looking for works local artists have hidden in bushes, under rocks, on fences, in trees ... they could be anywhere.
Francesco Lo Castro, Terribly Odd and Katya Neptune are among the 28 artists who will hide art this year. The lucky finders of the roughly 200 treasures, which include paintings, collages, prints and silk-screens, can get them signed by the artists and take the works home. It's all free.
While it sounds too good to be true, it's real, and Steve Sticht, the man behind the hunt, intends to keep it that way.
Sticht, a street artist for decades, earned local fame in 1999 for his Blue Bike Project, which involved placing bikes, each painted handicapped-parking-stripe blue, in various locations around Fort Lauderdale. As the bikes mysteriously hit the streets, many of them chained to poles or racks outside local businesses, people tried to figure out who was delivering them and why. Sticht eventually became known as the guy behind the bikes, which continue to be delivered to new spots.
The project is about fun, as is Art Scavenger Hunt, which drew 45 people to Himmarshee Village in 2001 and 200 to Laser Wolf in Fort Lauderdale in 2011. The meeting place for the hunt is typically outside a bar, but the hunt itself is held in the place where Sticht has exhibited for years.
"My gallery is the street," the 54-year-old artist says. "I do things all the time that make people think, whether you call it graffiti or just a little sticker that says something weird."
For the art hunt, he goes all out. "I did 115 pieces last year in hopes that everyone gets something," says Sticht, who hates to see people walk away empty-handed.
Attendees, however, must do their part. Bringing a flashlight and arriving at 8 p.m. is crucial because most people have cleaned up by 8:30 or 8:45. People who try to hunt for art works before the maps are distributed or make off with more than the two-work limit aren't welcome. The streets will be patrolled by friends of the hunt, who will photograph violators and publicly out them online.
As Sticht posted in all caps on the Art Scavenger Hunt Facebook event page, "No jerks, no cheaters, no hoarders. We mean it, man."
South Florida Artists Association founder Charlotte Sundquist loves the mayhem. "What better excuse to grab a flashlight and go searching in Dumpsters and dark alleys to find hidden art-treasures?" she asks. "I think my favorite was a pencil sketch done by Francesco Lo Castro on a small piece of a wooden two-by-four. I found it by digging through an empty six-pack carton down a back street.
"I've brought a number of friends with me to go scavenging over the years," she says. "But once we've grabbed a map, everyone takes off in all directions, and we have a great time meeting back at the bar to get the work signed and have a beer."
Colleen Dougher operates the South Florida arts blog Arterpillar.
Art Scavenger Hunt
When: 8-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24
Where: Laser Wolf, 901 Progresso Drive, No. 101, Fort Lauderdale
Contact: 954-249-8484 or Facebook.com/stephensticht