If you see a sculpture floating in a Detroit fountain Friday, or a painting perched on a statue, you may have stumbled onto the beginning of your own free art collection, and a surprising way to support the DIA.
You'll have to check a social media site to see if it's one of the offerings of Free Art Friday Detroit (FAFDET), a cross between a scavenger hunt and free art auction where people leave their artwork around the city for seekers to find and keep each week. They'll post photographic clues to the FAFDET Facebook page or Twitter with the hashtag #fafdet.
This week, Skidmore Studio, the design company that launched the event when they moved their offices from Royal Oak to the Madison Building downtown in October, will make the informal art hunt a little large. Free Art Friday kicks off with a 10 a.m. rally on the steps of the Detroit Institute of Arts in support of the museum as it attempts to get voter support for a 10-year millage to keep the lights on.
"The mission of Free Art Friday coincides with the idea of the DIA trying to make the museum available to everybody," said Tim Smith, CEO and President of Skidmore Studio. "[This is a] call to artistic arms for getting the vote out."
Oakland, Macomb and Wayne County voters will see the 0.2 mill tax on their ballots for the Aug. 7 primary, which would raise $23 million annually if it were passed in all counties and would come out to $20 a year for the owner of a home worth $200,000. Without the tax, the DIA says it will have to make cuts and eventually close, though opponents point to the museum's large endowment and object to putting the museum's financial burden on taxpayers.
Though artists, teachers and public officials alike have spoken for the DIA, FAFDET's smaller, Do-It-Yourself approach to art might seem at odds with the longstanding institution's. But Smith sees commonalities between FAFDET and the DIA.
"Art is and has always been a very social thing, and museums are one gathering place people can go to see it," he said. "Art needs to be for the masses."
FAFDET has been running each Friday for about 40 weeks, gaining more followers as it goes, with pieces sometimes found within minutes of being posted online.
"We have some people who got a clue that we would hide the art Friday morning, and they started to camp out Friday morning to watch us," Smith said. "We got wise to them pretty quick and had to send decoys out."
Skidmore has had their own employees making art for Friday, whether or not they work on the creative side. After people gather on the DIA steps Friday, they expect to have more than 30 pieces from the company and other local artists to go out and hide, not just around the city, but in the counties who will vote on the millage. And it's not too late to participate, whether you want to hunt for clues or hide your own piece. Artists can either bring their work to the rally or hide it themselves after 10 a.m. (For the full instructions, see FAFDET's website.)
"Anyone is welcome to jump in, whether you wear a suit to work or flip flops, it doesn't matter," said Smith. "Everyone's got some artist in them."