What do you get when you cross online social networking with real people in real places making real art—for free?
The concept is simple: Keep your pedestrian eyes peeled on Fridays as you walk that sadly familiar path to work, a store, or to meet your dealer, and you may be confronted with the opportunity to obtain a free piece of art! Hooray! What a town!
When you find one of these works, you will ask yourself the following things: WTF is that? Is it really free? Do I like it? If your answer to the third question is yes, then the answer to second question is also affirmative. You're on your own with the first. Snap a picture of your find and post a comment on the Free Art Fridays Albuquerque Facebook page. Stephanie Galloway is the instigator, promoter and currently the main supplier of artwork behind Free Art Fridays in Albuquerque.
Geoffrey Plant: Did you come up with this idea?
Stephanie Galloway: Actually, the idea of artists leaving art out for free in a public space is not really a new concept. There's an English artist by the name “My Dog Sighs,” and he was the artist who coined the phrase “Free Art Friday,” which has spread around the world. His Flickr group started in 2006. People got inspired by what he was doing and started chapters internationally. I felt that Albuquerque had a very vibrant, creative artist's scene with a lot to offer, and this creates an atmosphere for them to share their work with the community.
GP: How many people are involved with the Albuquerque chapter?
SG: We're going on two months old and I've gotten three artists to participate, but we've also done some swaps with other chapters, and there are other artists in town who are working on art. Some people just do this on their own and I don't know them personally. There's not many constraints to doing this.
GP: Who do you think the audience is?
SG: Things like this take time to catch on, and I'm pretty impressed with how fast it's developed. The audience is not just people in the arts community—it's everyday people and the word gets spread around; people who have picked up pieces and are like “what is this” then check it out online. A big part is even if just a few people get touched by the idea then I think it can have a snowball effect. It's just a great way to share creativity. There's people that just don't see that every day, and they come across it and it just sparks their interest. This kind of touches the individual in a way, in a special way, you know? Because they get to take it with them.
GP: Where do you see this going?
SG: There's other cities with more established groups that do it as kind of a treasure hunt, and there's actually people who check in on Facebook for clues and stuff. I would like to get more people involved, participating. I would also like to get it where it is more of a treasure hunt thing where they are not left in such obvious places. We mainly do the communicating of information and stuff with people who are interested in this through our Facebook page, but it doesn't always have to happen through there in the sense that there are participants who aren't following us on there. But Facebook is a good outlet for leaving clues, photos, hints on where to find stuff and getting to that point where it can become a treasure hunt.