WESTFIELD-For local residents seeking a unique challenge, World Art Drop Day on Sept. 1 promises an art treasure hunt thanks to artists who will hide their works, leaving clues where to find them on social media platforms.
“This year marks our fourth year promoting the event locally and given our very positive experience with the Heroes Are Everywhere community mural project, folks seem hungry for safe, social interaction in the new normal of COVID-19,” said Bill Westerlind, president, ArtWorks of Westfield Inc.
Westerlind added that World Art Drop Day is a “perfect antidote” to the social separation blues area residents are feeling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We all need a little random kindness and selflessness right about now,” he said.
World Art Drop Day is a global event that is observed on the first Tuesday of September. The event is the brainchild of Jake Parker of Provo, Utah, who sought to connect people to one another and to create random bonds between strangers through the art of creating and giving, according to Westerlind.
“Each city or group can organize it as they like but the end result is always a fun time finding artwork in very unexpected places,” said Westerlind.
Two local artists, Susan Buffum and Shannon Chiba, are among many who will be participating in the upcoming event.
“I began participating in 2016 before I began drawing again,” said Buffum. “I dropped books I had written in 2016 and 2017. In 2018 I dusted off the ink bottle and crow quills and drew two different black squirrels – Rail Walker and Sitting Pretty. It was mind blowing how quickly those drawings were found and how happy the finders were.”
Buffum noted she is taking the day off from work so she will have ample time to find unusual hiding places for her 12+ new prints she is dropping off around the city.
“Last year I didn’t get out until evening time dropping art prints from the Hampton Ponds area, down Southampton Road, and into downtown with dusk chasing at my heels,” said Buffum. “As quickly as I posted pics and clues the art was being found. Downtown was deserted, yet my art was gone by the time I walked by drop locations to return to my car.”
Buffum said the treasure hunt experience can be exhilarating – for both artists and those discovering the art.
Buffum noted that a special Art Drop Day form is attached to the artwork so finders can identify it as free for the taking. The form can be found at www.mrjakeparker.com/art-drop-day, noted Buffum.
“I received quite a few messages on Facebook and a couple emails,” said Buffum of last year’s event. “It feels good to give to the community. I love how it will bring us together this year while we’re all still socially distancing.”
Chiba shared a similar sentiment.
“It is a global event, but Westfield is a wonderful place to look,” said Chiba. “Use the hashtag #artdropdayWestfield to find local art. Some folks hide the art in plain sight, while others choose super-sleuthy places.”
Chiba noted that artists can leave a clue in a poetic form for more art engagement if they choose.
“It adds to the fun,” said Chiba. “Some folks post pics of the area they left the art in, while others may choose their favorite shop to drop the art to show others how cool a particular shop is.”
For Chiba, she expects to place more than 10 pieces of hand-drawn art around town in plastic bags with her business card in them.
“The plastic bags prevent weather from destroying the pieces, and if it takes days to find a piece, it will be protected,” she said.
Chiba said by placing social media contact information with dropped art it then allows the recipients to share an artist’s work and even “drum-up business” for them.
“It also allows recipients to share their thanks with you and to let an artist know their work was found,” said Chiba.
Westerlind noted that any and all artists, including students and professionals, painters and cartoonists, sculptors and illustrators, animators and fine artists, authors, writers, poets and song writers can drop a piece of their art anywhere in Westfield and then provide clues where to find it.
Anibelle Chiba, 9, has enjoyed participating in previous Art Drop Days with her mom, Shannon, and now plans to create artwork of her own to hide.
“Annie plans on dropping her roses, handmade by herself and of her own creation using ink, charcoal and marker on paper,” said Chiba.
Westerlind noted that anyone can search for the art.
“If you find it, you keep it,” he said.
Westerlind also encourages area residents to consider purchasing artwork from a local artist to drop on World Art Drop Day.
“The COVID pandemic has taken its toll on the creative economy in Westfield so any purchase from a local artist helps support our Westfield creative spirits,” he said.
The ArtWorks Westfield Facebook page will have frequent updates and clues posted by the artists making the drops.
“The artists will also post hints and clues on social media platforms of their choice as well,” said Westerlind. “The clues can be posted as early as Sunday night before World Art Drop Day although most of the clues are posted the day before the drop.”
Westerlind said clues can include a photo of the artwork, a photo of its location or a written poem, haiku or description of the location.
“The folks who find their artwork are encouraged to post a selfie with their find on the ArtWorks pages or any other social media outlet, tell the world about the artist and where you found the piece,” said Westerlind. “This is an important part of the social interaction. It is not the same as in person communication but a lot of fun nonetheless.”