Free Art Friday movement hits Asheville streets


Asheville artists are placing their work out on city streets for any passerby to pick up, and it is awesome. These random acts of art are nothing new, but the artists seem to have picked up their game recently.

For the past couple of months, my friend and artist Zen has been decorating small oval magnets and then placing them on cars and metal structures around town. His Random Oval Magnet Project even has an official Facebook page. Zen, ever the creator and an excellent photographer, describes his project thusly:

ROMP – The Random Oval Magnet Project is an art project started by zen Sutherland of hand-and-spray-painted oval magnets placed mostly on random cars and some stationary metal objects in the Asheville, NC USA area.

Because they are easily removed I encourage people to swap and take the magnets and place them elsewhere (like on your own car), or on your refrigerator in the trash if that’s what you want to do. You or your cars are the gallery for a constantly shifting work of art that is ever-changing and moving.

ROMP magnets cannot be bought. They are either found or – seeing me on the street – asking me for one!

Then this past Friday, my friend and artist Gabriel Shaffer announced that he had placed one of his pieces out on a city street for somebody to find.

I saw two other hits referencing Free Art Friday, including the folks at Odds Cafe noting that they had discovered a piece by Asheville artist Andy Herod.

I don’t know if this was a one-time deal, or if Free Art Fridays will continue.

As I noted earlier, Asheville has a vibrant street art scene. The mural scene gets a lot of attention because it often gets unfairly termed graffiti, an issue that Asheville city officials have come down on hard over the past couple of years. Other examples: each fall, somebody creates a mandala-type piece made of flowers in downtown Asheville; the yarn bombing that occurs is fun; what other examples are out there?




zen July 13, 2015 - 9:30 pm

I’ve started an IndieGoGo campaign to further my Asheville ROMPing! (Click link if you feel inclined)

Arts Lover June 24, 2015 - 8:56 am

As an art lover and art collector, I have a slight problem with this. While it conveys the community spirit and generosity of our artists, it may also re-enforce the notion that art is a “hobby” and a non-essential for artists and art consumers. “If they can give it away, then why should we pay for it?” Artists of all sorts, except perhaps for musicians, are often asked to contribute their work to auctions, to work for free, to support community endeavors. Even buskers, “giving away” their music, want to collect donations and even sell the CDs. Artists make their living through art. Yes, even doctors and medical people donate their services at times. But does giving away art – especially in an anonymous way – add to the value of artists in our community? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

zen July 2, 2015 - 3:48 pm

I hear that all too frequently Art Lover. The ‘watering down’ of the art ethic doesn’t necessarily water down the business level of art for collectors and people who want to see art in their living room. I’m one who doesn’t see giving away art as demeaning the value of artists. Art appreciation breeds appetite for more, generally, and if your first piece was found, maybe that finder will both see art in the world around them and purchase art they want to see on a more regular basis.

Missy Corrales June 22, 2015 - 11:08 pm

Free Art Friday is done every Friday – unless we forget and sneak it on Saturdays lol. Its a lot of fun hearing from people who find our art.

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