Every November for the last 14 years, Steve Sticht has gathered together a big sack of goodies that even Santa and his elves would envy. But these aren't Christmas gifts, wrapped in pretty paper and placed neatly under the tree.
To get ahold of these treasures, you have to find them first.
The Art Scavenger Hunt is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Sticht gathers and then scatters dozens of pieces of original -- but yet unsigned (you'll find out why later) -- artworks created by himself and other local artists.
It all started after Sticht created a few pieces, and well, just kind of put them somewhere.
"At some point I was painting some old awning windows with whatever was around my house. When I was done, I took them downtown to the old Chili Pepper (now Revolution) and hung them from the main fence at the rear entrance," says Sticht. "They hung there for about three weeks and then they were gone. I started making more paintings and art pieces on glass and putting them around the downtown area. Gluing them to posts and walls. Some of those pieces didn't last too long."
It turned out that a friend of his, fellow artist Jeff Holmes, had been collecting the pieces after the Chilli Pepper's staff failed to appreciate Sticht's "guerrilla art" installations.
"They had called him to see what he thought of the three painted windows. The Chili Pepper management thought someone was cursing them."
Holmes had kept one and given others away.
"So, Jeff finds out that I did the pieces that were showing up around downtown and decides to have an outside 'pirate art' show centered around what I was doing downtown. "
By the following year, the show had transformed into the Art Scavenger Hunt. More and more artists joined in, donating pieces. Now, a map is handed and around to 150 to 200 participants. And then they're off, collecting up to two pieces each before returning to base.
"It seems to get bigger and better every year with a fluctuating array of artists being involved," says Sticht. He estimates that last year, he put out 80 artworks. With 21 artists involved, he wants to make sure no one goes home empty handed.
The exact location of the hunting area and the starting point is a closely guarded secret until the night of, for much the same reason that the pieces are unsigned until the end -- so no one cheats.
"I have never let the bar/restaurant know that the hunt is to start at their establishment. It helps with the secret nature of the hunt," says Sticht. "I even changed the location last year because 'hunters' were hitting the trails and hunting areas early, then putting some art in their cars only to come back to the meeting place with the allotted two pieces of art per person."
At the afterparty at Laser Wolf, the artists will be on hand to sign their work and drink a few craft beers.
The hunt is a popular and beloved tradition in the local arts community. The artists involved are well-known and even some who have spread their talents further afield. Sticht will often dedicate that year's hunt to a particular artist.
"One year I named the hunt in honor of Peter Giovenco who passed away a couple of months ago. Peter was an original artist/participant from the earliest hunts all the way to last year's hunt; even in sickness he added to it" says Sticht. "Another year I dedicated the hunt to Brad Stewart/Gidget Gein, artist and original member of Marilyn Manson. Even though he was in California for the last three hunts, he did send me his art to put out in hiding for him. He passed away a few years ago."
Here's a full list of this year's participating artists:
W. Kelley Lucas
Morgan Whitworth Sticht
Iron Forge Press
The 2014 Art Scavenger Hunt kicks off at 8 p.m. at Laser Wolf (901 Progresso Drive, Fort Lauderdale). There you'll get your map and off you go. This year's limit is two pieces per person. As the Laser Wolf guys put it, don't be a jerk.
Food trucks will be on-site at Laser Wolf for an afterparty, where the artists will be available to sign their works. Remember: Nothing says "thank you" like a burrito and a craft beer. Email [email protected], or call 954-249-8484.