Video: 15th Annual Art Scavenger Hunt at Makers Square

Mr. Entertainment is a South Florida musician and herald of the local scene since the 19-somethings and serves as the unofficial Musical Mayor of Hollywood.

The Art Scavenger Hunt started 15 years ago with a dozen or so artists having some fun, making works of art, then hiding them up trees, in bushes, and around Downtown Fort Lauderdale for each other to discover. It has since morphed into an annual event with hundreds of additional participants coming to hunt for art that they get to take home for free. This year, 38 artists — many of them quite accomplished, like painter Francesco Locastro, screenprinter Chuck Loose, and graphic designer and muralist Jill Weisberg — donated works. 

The event was started by Steve Sticht, an artist and craftsman who became known in the city years ago when he painted a bunch of bicycles blue and left them around town, in something of a one-man community arts initiative called the Blue Bike Project. (You can still see these bikes around town.)

Over the years, his Art Scavenger Hunt — always held right after Thanksgiving — has attracted hundreds of scavengers with their own pre-game strategies. Over its lifespan, the Hunt was headquartered in the Himmarshee area for a few years, FAT Village for a few, and most recently in the area surrounding the popular craft beer outpost Laser Wolf. Always about a new challenge and throwing everyone a curveball, Sticht held this year's game in a brand new location: Makers Square, which is sort of like what would result if Mad Max and Fred Sanford had a futuristic circus compound.

Because attendees in the last few years got greedy — hunting art before the start time, and snatching up multiple paintings and silkscreens for themselves —  Sticht this year kept it private, with invites circulating via Facebook, instead of opening it up as a public free-for-all. In past years, he's ruled that anyone who finds artwork keep only two pieces; this year, he made it one-item-per-person, which helped spread the bounty around. 

As usual, this year's event was cool digs and nice people. New territory to explore and less aggressive social media promotion made for a nice weeding-out process for the herd of hoarders who tend to accumulate when things become predictable. Mastermind Sticht used a suave method of handing out treasure maps which gave hints where the art was hidden. This led to random folks wandering off in small groups rather than the stampedes of previous years. There seemed to be fewer early-starters this year as well — another pleasant change.

I've attended possibly a dozen of these over the years as both a hunter and hider. It's inspiring to see our not-so-secret community partaking in a bit of art anarchy instead of the push-and-shove chaos of Black Friday. Although some did not know the rules and others did not abide by them, most did, and if they did discover multiple pieces, they hid them again for others to find. The crowd seemed happy with the results, and most came out with a piece of art in their hands. That’s what it is all about: getting together and sharing art.

All hail the Blue Bike, and here’s to next year.
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