Free Art Friday

Free Art Friday brings Houston artists and strangers together in fun-filled scavenger hunt

Free Art Friday links artists and strangers in fun scavenger hunt

Dandee Warhol Free Art Friday instagram
Pop artist Dandee Warhol shared this Instagram photo of a piece he placed in Sugar Land as part of Free Art Friday. dandee_warhol / Instagram
Black Cassidy Free Art Friday instagram
Black Cassidy, co-founder of Free Art Friday, posted this photo of one of the pieces he placed for the weekly art event. ohnohedint / Instagram
Blake Jones found Free Art Friday
Instagram user @wiztx shared this photo of a work by Blake Jones that he found as part of Free Art Friday. wiztx / Instagram
Scott Tarbox Free Art Friday instagram
Scott Tarbox, co-founder of Free Art Friday, posted this photo of a sticker pack he planted for local scavengers to locate. tarboxx2 / Instagram
Dom Bam Free Art Friday instagram
Dom Bam shared this image of his work along with some visual clues to help art hunters locate the piece. dombam / Instagram
Laurie Mills Free Art Friday instagram
Mixed media artist Laurie Mills posted this image of her work, ready to be found in the Montrose area. this_apron_is_for_painting / Instagram
Dandee Warhol Free Art Friday instagram
Black Cassidy Free Art Friday instagram
Blake Jones found Free Art Friday
Scott Tarbox Free Art Friday instagram
Dom Bam Free Art Friday instagram
Laurie Mills Free Art Friday instagram

Fridays in Houston just became a lot more fun thanks to some motivated local artists and their desire to share artworks with the community.

Artists Black Cassidy and Scott Tarbox have pioneered Houston's own Free Art Friday, an art scavenger hunt open to everyone. Since the phrase was coined more than 10 years ago by British artist My Dog Sighs, events have been popping up in cities around the world, and now Houston is one of them.

 Not only must hunters find the work, but they have to grab it before anyone else does. 

Artists participating in Free Art Friday post photos of their freshly hidden artworks on Instagram using the hashtag #htxfreeartfriday. Art hunters must use visual or textual clues from the posts — perhaps a street sign or comment about a local landmark — to locate the work.

Not only must hunters find the work, but they have to grab it before anyone else does.

Cassidy says he first heard about Free Art Friday through an artist from Austin, where the weekly event had already been established for more than a year.

"I'd never heard of it," Cassidy says. "When he explained it, immediately I thought, 'That's genius.' I was instantly on a mission to get people involved. I didn't really know how to explain it to folks because you've got to ask people to give away art for free."

Weekly occurence

After about six months of planning, Cassidy launched the event last August with a few artists who felt passionately about the success of Free Art Friday as a weekly occurrence. Only a few weeks later, Tarbox contacted Cassidy and said he wanted to help.

"From then on every decision was made by both of us, then (graffiti organization) Aerosol Warfare, (Austin graffiti collective) SprATX and (artist) Steven Horowitz teamed up with us within the next month or two," Cassidy says.

 "People are becoming art collectors and they don't even know it," says participating artist Dom Bam. 

Now, just a little over eight months after the first Free Art Friday, Cassidy and Tarbox estimate that at least 25 artists participate each week, with more artists joining as the event continues to grow. According to several participating artists, most of them discovered the event by seeing posts on friends' social media accounts.

"I was lucky enough to be on Instagram the first week of Free Art Friday started and I thought, 'This looks like so much fun,'" says participating artist Laurie Mills. "I put out two pieces the first day and the first piece was gone within about 30 minutes. It's fun to see how quickly they go."

"It's pretty organic," says participating artist Dandee Warhol. "I've seen friends on social media who aren't from Houston start to do it in different cities now. Hopefully it'll transition worldwide and Friday will just be 'free art day.'"

Unique pieces for free

In addition to the appeal of a grown-up scavenger hunt, most hunters are especially excited by the opportunity to own local artists' unique pieces for free.

"It's fun because a lot of people can't afford to buy art," Warhol says. "We have people that like our work and we might as well give them what we can to support the community."

"People are becoming art collectors and they don't even know it," says participating artist Dom Bam.

While many artists choose place their works in and around the Montrose area, more artists are choosing to drop pieces outside of the Loop, some even going as far as Sugar Land.

Be sure to follow @htxgroundcontrol and check the hashtag #htxfreeartfriday on Instagram to keep up on the events every Friday and claim your own free art pieces — if you can find them first!