Finders keepers: Fredericton artists prepare for city-wide hide and seek art event

Illustrator Vena Carr created the Freddy Art Hunt, but will also be hiding some of her own pieces, including this one. (Submitted by Vena Carr - image credit)
Illustrator Vena Carr created the Freddy Art Hunt, but will also be hiding some of her own pieces, including this one. (Submitted by Vena Carr - image credit)

Don't be surprised if you happen upon groups of art lovers in Fredericton on Saturday scouring the city.

It's all part of an event called Freddy Art Hunt, created by local illustrator Vena Carr.

"The idea is local artists are going to hide their artwork in town and then post clues to their Instagram, giving their followers an opportunity to find their art and take it home for free," she said.

It's the second year the event is being held and the number of participating artists has doubled.

Carr, seen here at the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market, hopes that the art hunt will allow anyone who wants to own a piece of original art to do so, without thinking about cost.
Carr, seen here at the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market, hopes that the art hunt will allow anyone who wants to own a piece of original art to do so, without thinking about cost.

Carr, seen here at the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market, hopes that the art hunt will allow anyone who wants to own a piece of original art to do so, without thinking about cost. (Submitted by Vena Carr)

Carr, a full-time artist, said the idea to start Freddy Art Hunt came to her because each year, she would take part in an event called Game of Shrooms, where artists from all over the world would create and hide mushroom-themed art in their respective communities for participants to find.

But last year, she was unavailable on the day of the art hunt and decided to start her own, but without a theme and featuring local artists.

"There was a lot of excitement in town," she said of last year's event. "I don't necessarily have numbers for how many people were out searching, but I know from my artwork, personally, it was found within a minute or less."

Carr decided on a theme showcasing snails on rotten fruit for her art hunt pieces this year.
Carr decided on a theme showcasing snails on rotten fruit for her art hunt pieces this year.

Carr decided on a theme showcasing snails on rotten fruit for her art hunt pieces this year. (Submitted by Vena Carr)

Around 24 artists have signed up to hide their unique art pieces for this year's event, Carr said.

Each artist does it their own way, she said. Some will start hiding and posting clues on Instagram early in the morning, while others may wait until the afternoon.

There are a few rules though. Artists are required to collect any works that weren't found by midnight on Saturday to avoid littering, and hunters are asked to only take home one piece of artwork each in order to allow everyone a chance.

Jody McCleary, a tattoo, textile and visual artist, is participating for the first time this year. She has eight different watercolour paintings and one knit scarf that she'll be hiding.

McCleary decided to contact several small businesses to host her pieces during the hunt.

Mixed medium artist Jody McCleary experimented with a watercolour technique for some of her art hunt pieces.
Mixed medium artist Jody McCleary experimented with a watercolour technique for some of her art hunt pieces.

Mixed medium artist Jody McCleary experimented with a watercolour technique for some of her art hunt pieces. (Submitted by Jody McCleary)

Her first clue will go up on Instagram at 7 a.m. and from there, every hour will bring a new post about one of her hidden artworks.

She also made a suggestion on social media — an art-hunting party. People could go as a group, look for one or two pieces, and play a game later that evening to see who would take them home.

Shek McHatten is hiding six pieces of his work around Fredericton, which combine pigeons and 2SLGBTQ+ imagery. This piece shows two pigeons wrapped up in a piece of litter that is the colours of the lesbian Pride flag.
Shek McHatten is hiding six pieces of his work around Fredericton, which combine pigeons and 2SLGBTQ+ imagery. This piece shows two pigeons wrapped up in a piece of litter that is the colours of the lesbian Pride flag.

Shek McHatten is hiding six pieces of his art around Fredericton that combine pigeons and 2SLGBTQ+ imagery. (Submitted by Shek McHatten)

"The only thing that we have for sure is our community," McCleary said. "So if we can make people excited about our art, even if it's just to have a fun activity, that's good enough for me some days."

Shek McHatten, another first-time participant, wanted their work to represent Fredericton's vibrant queer community, so it combines elements of Pride flags and pigeons — a bird that McHatten said holds symbolism.

"Fredericton has a large queer population, and yet, I find in some circumstances, we still, we're still looked at as an invasive species," said McHatten, who will be hiding six pieces around the city.

Some of the art pieces that will be hidden on Saturday include elements that will be familiar to Fredericton residents, such as this piece by Chrissie Park-MacNeil showing a mostly empty Picaroons glass.
Some of the art pieces that will be hidden on Saturday include elements that will be familiar to Fredericton residents, such as this piece by Chrissie Park-MacNeil showing a mostly empty Picaroons glass.

Some of the art pieces that will be hidden on Saturday include elements that will be familiar to Fredericton residents, such as this piece by Chrissie Park-MacNeil showing a mostly empty Picaroons glass. (Submitted by Chrissie Park-MacNeil)

With all of the artwork going to the successful hunters for free, the event doesn't present a chance for the artists to make money. But, as a professional artist who sells her artwork year-round, Carr said she understands art is a luxury.

"Not everybody who loves art can afford to buy it, certainly not an original piece of art," she said. "So for me, I feel like I'm giving back to the people who support me."