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“Searching for Hidden Treasure”

September 4, 2007

            I usually don’t get too excited about art. But I am now! I can hardly wait for the opening of the Chapman Cultural Center scheduled for early October. I am also enthusiastic about the project of a young local artist that promises to be an adventure for us all.

There is a community treasure hunt currently underway in the city of Spartanburg. Twenty works of art have already been hidden throughout our city. There will be more; each about the size of a slice of bread.

These small treasures are the component parts of a larger, more comprehensive vision. This artist has been deemed the Artist-in-Transit.

His hidden art is meant to be found, and finders will be keepers! To find this art, look for pictures of each work and a clue to the location on the Web site, creativebusstop.blogspot.com

When I walk the Rail Trail, a part of the Hub City Connector, I encounter folks from all over the city – Hampton Heights, Converse Heights, Duncan Park, and the South Side. Not only is walking good for us physically, greeting each other is good for us as a community.

One piece of art is a painting of a child’s red wagon. The artist writes, “Active living means remembering our youth and taking time to play again.” The clue reads, “If you go to Billy D’s East, you will find additional parking for your wagon. But if you walk the trail behind the sign, you will find this artifact.” This work was found on the very Rail Trail that I walk. It has been registered on the Web site. What a great way to encourage people to get out and walk!

In collaboration with Partners for Active Living, SPARTA Bus, and the City of Spartanburg, the artist will move throughout the city of Spartanburg for six months. His six-step project is intended to call the community’s attention to bus shelters, bike racks, and city trails.

1: The artist will create small paintings and sketches.

2: The artist will place these artifacts throughout the city. Clues will be placed on his blog (creativebusstop.blogspot.com) along with photos of the artifacts.

3: We may follow the clues to find these small pieces of art. When you discover an artifact, leave a comment on the Web site.

4: We are encouraged to send postcard reflections about the way we move through Spartanburg. Poems, artwork, and collages are just some of the creative ways you can contribute. Families with children, school classes, garden clubs, and senior adult groups may wish to participate. By submitting a card you agree that it may be exhibited in a culminating show and on the Web site. The mailing address is:

Artist-in-Transit

(CPO F) Wofford College

429 N. Church Street

Spartanburg, SC 29303

5: All of us are invited to the art show in January 2008. Participants who find the artifacts are encouraged to bring them to the final show for display. The pieces will still be yours to keep after the event. The Artist-in-Transit will share the larger work that resulted from the project.

6: The artist hopes we will all consider adjusting the way we travel in our city. I see several benefits to this creative project. This is not drive-by art as a billboard might be. This is a way to get us out of our automobiles for a while.

Through this project art appreciation takes on new meaning for all of our Hub City citizens, as if the Artist-in-Transit is preparing us for the new cultural center.

The project encourages the use of alternative forms of transportation for economic and environmental reasons and also as a way for us to connect with each other.

The Web site features a treasure map to guide those who want to engage in the search. On the Web site you can find photographs of the works of art that have been hidden so far. For each, there is a clue and information about how the work was designed.

The first piece is a drawing rendered by the artist as he overheard a conversation between a mother and her adult child. They were discussing their mutual concern about the mother’s poor health. A clue accompanied the piece, “To find this artifact, follow the path of liberty. Look inside the markers that tell you how a center for hearts connects to a center for minds.” This piece of art has been found and registered.

The second piece of art, a depiction of a blue balloon hanging from a brick wall landing on dry grass, has not yet been found. The clue reads, “To find this artifact, look for the park where the children run in a circle. Look backstage where the music plays.” I’m guessing there is art to be found in Barnet Park.

One piece was hidden on a statue downtown, the bronze likeness of a man reading a newspaper. That piece of art may have been found, but it has not been registered. It is no longer in the place where the artist hid it.

This is a fascinating use of art. Scanning the Web site, I had fun reading the clues and trying to guess where art is hidden. Hatcher Gardens, the Farmers’ Market at the Old Train Depot, and the grave of Singing Billy Walker in Magnolia Cemetery are possibilities.

Seeking adventure? Need an original idea for a special date with your sweetheart? Looking for a fun activity to enjoy with your children or grandchildren? Find it right here in Sparkle City!

The project is designed to spur the imagination, to create a sense of joy as we move about our city on bike, on bus, or on foot. The artist has made it easy for us to follow the clues and find his work.

One mystery remains. Who is the Artist-in-Transit? Go to the Web site to understand why I have such an interest in this creative project.

Check it out!

http://www.creativebusstop.blogspot.com

-Kirk H. Neely

© H-J Weekly, September 2007

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