#FreeArtFridaySR: An interactive Instagram account that hosts weekly scavenger hunts


Photo courtesy of Rachel Hernandez

Artists’ work is on sale and display at Brew’s gallery in December.

Haley Elizabeth Bollinger, Features Editor

A glass pendant with an intricate flower design sits beside the highway. A piece of upcyled art made out of used mason jar lids hangs out in an alleyway. A brightly colored graffiti painting waits in the branches of a tree.

#FreeArtFriday includes a group of 30 to 50 local artists who put on a weekly scavenger hunt by hiding original art via Instagram for followers to find around Sonoma County.

The participants come from various disciplines of art. There are painters, graffiti writers, glass blowers, mixed media art, photography and knitters, to name a few. Some artists are quite successful and community icons; others are starting out and want to make a name for themselves.

Zack Rhodes, a painter, started the #FreeArtFriday movement in Sonoma County. “I wanted to tie art together with the community,” he said. “Then also to open up a lane for up-and-coming artists or artists who aren’t quite comfortable with being artists, but have a place to share their work if they decide to, and at the same time it’s exposure for everybody.”

Rhodes borrowed the idea from FreeArtFriday Instagram account in Austin, Texas. He created an Instagram account and named it FreeArtFridaySR. From that point he connected with local artists. The concept behind FreeArtFriday is artist can hide their art around Santa Rosa, Petaluma and other local towns. They take a picture of where it’s hidden and post it with the hashtag #freeartfridaysr to their personal accounts. Rhodes sees the hashtag and promotes the photo on the @freeartfridaysr Instagram account. The photo directs followers to the artist’s account where more clues are available for followers to figure out where to find the art.

Rachel Hernandez, an SRJC alumus, is an artist who frequently participates and hides her art. “It uses technology in a way that is productive. It’s people going out and finding art. Artists going out and hiding art and communicating in more positive way through the internet,” Hernadez said.

Hernandez studied photography at Sacramento State University. She specializes in surreal photography, but also creates mixed media art out of upcycled materials.

“The art is driven by the immense amount of waste and garbage just tossed out that can be turned into something beautiful or functional,” Hernandez said. “I like to inspire people to use those items artistically to help ease Earth a little bit.”

Ryan Borella started painting stencil art a year ago. FreeArtFriday inspires him to create on a regular basis. “It’s being able to spread art together for free. It gets the community involved. They repost what they found or you get a bunch of people that normally aren’t doing anything and now they are out finding art,” Borella said.

Dominic Padua experiences an adrenaline rush when he hides his graffiti art. The idea that a person will have a cool story about finding his art entertains him. “Usually, I leave a note on my art that says this is part of #FreeArtFridaySR, congratulations and to look Instagram and repost that you found it,” Padua said.

Chris Hanson is a glass blower who specializes in glass pendants and marbles. He sometimes hides his art in random places like the produce section of Whole Foods. He knows it will probably be taken before the followers find it, but he leaves a tag on the glass art so the person who finds it knows it’s OK to take. “I like the fact that you can make a total strangers day by gifting them a piece of art,” Hanson said.

Rhodes collaborated with FreeArtFriday artists who regularly hide art, and was able to open up a gallery to sell and display their work. The gallery is at Brew, a local hangout that serves coffee and beer, located in Santa Rosa at 555 Healdsburg Ave. Their art will be on display through December. The artists enjoy giving away their art but have art for sale for those who aren’t lucky enough to find it.

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