For five Saturdays starting July 9, a series of works of art will be hidden in neighborhoods across Dallas, free for the taking. All you have to do is find them.
The rules for Art Quest, the latest program from Dallas-based public arts organization Aurora, are simple: Every Saturday morning from July 9 through Aug. 6, clues for finding a piece of art will be published on Aurora’s Instagram page and in its newsletter. Each of the artworks will be hidden in a different pocket of the city; the July 9 “quest” will take place in Jubilee Park just north of Fair Park. The other four locations are Bachman Lake, Pleasant Grove, Bonton and Vickery Meadow.
Whoever finds the artwork first gets to keep it. They also get information about the work, a certificate of authenticity and an opportunity to meet the artist.
“We’re just about taking art to as many different places as possible right now,” said Joshua King, co-founder and executive director of Aurora. “We wanted to find a great way of creating something that would be fun, bringing a game element to it — something that would be easy for anybody to do.”
Seekers don’t need any special equipment to hunt down the artwork, King said — all of the pieces will be on pedestals. “We treat everything just like it is a site-specific museum exhibition,” he said. “It’ll be presented like it would be a piece of land art.”
Aurora — known for staging events around the city that meld technology and the arts — commissioned $10,000 worth of artwork for Art Quest, King said. Each of the pieces were made using 3D-printing technology. “Technology is just like a paintbrush; it’s a tool,” King said. “It’s a way for us to find new forms of expression and a way to represent a new voice of today’s artists.”
Each of the artists were given free rein to decide how to incorporate 3D-printing into their work, King said. Artist Brooks Oliver, whose piece, Pearly Gates, will be hidden on July 16 at Bachman Lake, used a 3D-printed mold to create a ceramic.
Artist Eric Trich, on the other hand, used a software to “sculpt” his work in virtual reality, which was then exported and printed as a physical sculpture at MedCAD, a 3D-printing company in Deep Ellum.
“The digital world and the real world are going to slowly merge, I think,” Trich said.
The physical act of finding the artwork is crucial to the project, said artist Andrew Scott, whose work, Tree Spirit, is the boon of the first scavenger hunt.
“The best works are when you have that balance of high-tech and high-touch experiences,” said Scott, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. “This enterprise is an example of that.”
To pick the five neighborhoods participating in Art Quest, King said, Aurora used the 2018 Dallas Cultural Plan to identify communities that may benefit from additional exposure to art.
“What I liked about this project in particular is that they were going to try to showcase a new type of art to areas that typically wouldn’t even have access to it, or see it, or even know about it,” Trich said.
In addition to the five scavenger hunts, the Art Quest program will also include two educational workshops at the Urban Arts Center in east Oak Cliff led by multimedia artist Nitashia Johnson. “The main goal of the workshop is to really dive in deep to talk about the power of storytelling, and how technology can elevate a community,” Johnson said.
Participants in the final Art Quest event, which will be held in Vickery Meadow on Aug. 6, will search for Yeezy Walks, a sculpture of rapper Kanye West, mid-air, microphone in hand. The piece was made by artist Victor Enam, a recent MFA graduate from UT Dallas and an immigrant from Nigeria. Art Quest is his first formal exhibition.
“It is an exciting feeling to know that my work is actually going to be appreciated and someone is going to have it in their home,” he said.