One woman, lots of paint and hundreds of tiles. If you're here because you found a painted tile, it's yours to keep.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fresh tiles

"Bunny Rabbit" is gratfeul. The story on back says it all. I left the rabbit's location on Dropspots.org on Tuesday night after having a Guinness at Dicey's, then visiting Christmas on Las Olas where there was an actual snow hill and mini-flurries.
"Larry" (the guy above whose only passions are butterflies and pinot grigio) was left in a tidy six-inch spot between two businesses around the 3300 bock of NE 33rd Street - directly across the street from a sportsy-looking pub called Wally's (Fort Lauderdale) on Sunday night ... "Plastic Marcy," (Queen of Collagen), was left somehwere near Bayview and Oakland in a rather obvious place an hour later. I was on foot and my purse was weighing me down ... I got a little lazy.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Art Scavenger Hunt

This weekend was the big Art Scavenger hunt, where a bunch of artists hide art in Himmarshee Village and everyone’s invited to come find it.
It was fun seeing so many people run all over Himmarshee poking through bushes with flashlights and getting down on their hands and knees to look for art under dumpsters … not to mention the excited screams when something was found. It was even funnier to see observers who had no clue why people were running around shining flashlights into bushes. They must have thought someone lost something, and everyone was helping them look for it.
I didn’t find anything, as I was distracted with all the people watching and I secretly hid three of my own tiles as well. I discovered just how bad I am at doing anything inconspicuously. I’m gonna have to work on that if I want to continue keeping my real identity a secret. (You didn’t really think my name was Mary Tiler More, did you.)
One of the many reasons I use another name is that it feels easier to deal with criticism that way. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of attending art shows it’s that people can sometimes be really mean. I’m sure you can tell by looking at my tiles that I’m not a serious artist. I didn’t graduate from an art school (or ever attend one) nor did I inherit some great natural talent for drawing or painting. I know people will call my tiles frivolous and silly and they are. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t hide them in random places around town.
It was especially exciting to hide them in a place where people were actually searching for art. For the first time ever – I got to see one of the recipients of my tiles. I saw the guy walking off with it under his arm and I think it was “Kelly” – the green-eyed girl with no nose. Then, I got to see something really real. A guy was passing by him carrying the piece of art he found and they compared finds. When the guy carrying my tile showed it to the man, he did this little shrug and kind of smooshed his face up disdainfully as if to say “What the hell?”
I’ll post poor little “Kelly” here, along with “Martini Girl” and “Emo Stevie” both of which have their tiny little stories on the back. I also hid a few in little alleyways not far from the beach on Sunday. I'll put them on the next post.
I think I’m going to try to do something other than faces next, but maybe not. I still have hundreds of tiles in the closet so I guess I can do anything I want.
Anyway, art scav hunt was as fun as I remembered it to be, but I think it took some people awhile to figure out who the artists were when they arrived back at Tavern 213 to get their works signed. Maybe the artists should wear little hats with those things that spin around on the top or something. But the people who were there on those crazy bikes … I’m not sure if they were artists but they could definitely give pointers on how to stand out in a crowd. … 1) Drape your bikes in pink fur, lime green umbrellas, wind chimes, neon and daisies 2) Wear orange fuzzy pajama pants and peach crocs 3) Dance in the street.
After seeing so many fun-minded people in one spot, I’m thinking Himmarshee Village would be a prime spot for one of those massive flash-mob pillow fights I heard about last year. All of these people showed up at a designated street corner at a designated time and started swinging their feather pillows at everyone around them. Some Web site had photos of the fiasco online and it looked hysterical … I mean how could you not laugh until you cried just seeing something like that?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A closer look at Dropspots.org

London performance artist Ed Purver. Chicago filmmaker Brijetta Hall, and California Web developer Dan Phiffer met at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

One of the things they share is their love for finding things on the street, such as photos, letters or anything that might provide the tiniest insight into another person’s life. They aren’t alone in their passion for this. It’s what fueled Davy Rothbart to launch Found magazine, and what drives others to read it. But this trio has taken “found culture” to a new level by making it easier for people to find things (while increasing their own access to “found” stuff).

While visiting a pre-planned location to retrieve something hidden there for the sole purpose of being found isn’t quite the same as finding a soiled and torn diary page randomly blowing down a street, the experience is special in other ways.

The chances of ever learning whose diary that soiled page was torn from is slim, but if someone visits your hiding place after finding it on Dropspots.org, they may post about their find on the site – or not. There’s also the chance that someone who doesn’t even know about Dropspots will find your item and consider it a random discovery. Among the things people hide are photos, poems, quotes, little games, art, CDs or even things meant to inspire creativity and participation. Hall, for example, hid containers of modeling clay along with notes asking the finders to create something and post a photo to Drospots.

She’s still waiting, but recent posts to the Web site indicate that photos of tiny sculptures will soon be forthcoming.

Purver says that one of his favorite Dropspot finds was a color slide dated 1969. “It’s this strange scene that looks like an interior design studio in the 1960s like something by the Eames brothers but you can’t tell which way up it should be, like the ceiling could be the floor," Purver says. "The person who left [the slide] wrote their e-mail on it.”

He sent her a message and now they’re friends.

“I think most of us have things that have the potential for becoming magical and when we hide them and give them away with no explanation,” Purver says, “it’s like allowing that magic to be set free.”

While Dropspots.org was launched in New York there are now dropspots around the world, including a few in Fort Lauderdale that I posted myself. The bookstore one is probably long gone, so I’ll have to figure out how to delete it, but the other one was a really good hiding space, so it’s probably still there. I’m new at this, so I haven’t yet scoped out many nooks and hiding places on my walks, nor have I tested my painted tiles to see how they withstand being left outside for days, or weeks.

If you like Dropspots, create your own and spread the word. I experienced some trial and error when creating the first one but the second was pretty easy. You can even import pics to show where you’ve hidden something or the view form where it’s hidden.

Not enough people really know about this, but there’s something special about that, too. I’ll take a photo of my next hiding spot and post it here. Meanwhile, I think there’s still one hidden out there and there's something exciting about knowing that it could be seconds, minutes, days, weeks or months before anyone finds it. I wonder who it will be, what they will do with it, and where it will end up 10 years from now.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Tiling Himmarshee

I hid three more tiles in random spots around the Himmarshee Village/Riverfront area of downtown Fort Lauderdale last night but didn't post them on Dropspots as they weren't hard to find, so I figure they're gone by now. I didn't really hide them so much as I just left them places. The tiles were #6 Shadybug ... wasn't like the others, #2 Home Sweet Home (Affordable Housing) and the one pictured in an earlier post, #5 Red-Haired Girl (Her muses were many, her troubles were few). ... Happened across some good bands at Revolution. Really liked this group called Sunuelo or Suenelo or something like that. I saw the name on a flier but forget how to spell it ... They inspired some crazy dancing. Funny moment of the evening: There's a store in Riverfront that had these funky little polka dot headband things (that I thought were ties at first) ... anyway there's a mannequin outside the door, and the person who works there (or maybe owns it) was stuffing tissues down the dress, then she stood back with her hand on her hips admiring her work. When she looked over and saw us laughing, she said the mannequin needed a little boob job. I think business was a little slow. Riverfront doesn't get the crowds it once did and there were manyempty storefronts. The kiosk people looked especially bored, as did the guy who rides people around on one of those big tricycle things that I can never remember the name of .... I offered him five dollars if he would let me take it for a ride and I told him he could even sit in the back ('cause I always wanted to see if I had the strength to pedal people around in case I need a second job) but he declined my generous offer, saying he would if he could but ... insurance blah blah blah. Like I'm really gonna crash a tricycle. ... But the best bike moment was seeing all these really cool bicycles lined up in a row in parking spots just outside the Poor House, as if they were Harleys or something. Loved that.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ready or not ....

I hid Pink Kitty and Questionable Kiss. Wow, that was kinda fun. PK may be found before anyone reads this post (since no one has the address yet) ... I've never done this before and was just anxious to get started. But Questionable Kiss is in a really good hiding spot, so I suspect no one will find that for awhile. If you want to know more about where they are, check out DropSpots.org.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

All I wanna do ....

So far, I’ve only told a few close friends and my brother about this project – though they don’t know the blog address. I can almost see them shaking their heads.

When I explained Tile Fort Lauderdale to my brother, the phone went so silent that I thought we’d lost our connection. “Are you there?” I asked. “I’m here,” he finally replied. “So what, you thinking I’ve gone off the deep end or something?” “I'm leaning in that direction,” he responded. Others, to varying degrees, had similar reactions. Only one friend seemed to find it perfectly normal to want to do this. But she’s from New York.

I realize this little project makes no sense to some people, but for a person intensely intrigued by Found magazine, Postsecret.com, street art (and candid videos of people reacting to it) and flash mobs (which sadly never made their way to South Florida), it makes more sense than working a second job, as I did earlier this year so I could keep up with inflation. But the extra work made me so tired that I’d just wind up spending the extra money to pay for things I could have done myself if I had the time or energy.

When I die, I don’t want people to remember how hard I worked. I want them to remember me having fun. If I can do it while advancing my skills, that’s even better. I’ll make nothing painting and hiding tiles, but I’m learning how to blog – an increasingly marketable asset - and use a digital camera. I’ve never taken many photographs, but now I do, and have learned to download the pics to my computer, put them in a Photobucket and transfer them to my site. This is no big deal for many people. For me, it’s a big deal.

Then there’s the painting. I acquired 297 tiles four years ago (cheap) from a friend who bought them for a project that never got done. I had plans for the tiles, too, but decided I don’t have the patience for tiling. So they’ve been sitting in my closet for years, as has a cartful of paint leftover from my six-month painting binge a few years back.

So I’m learning new things, getting rid of stuff I don't need and while lost in the process of painting, I’m imagining stories about whatever I paint and thinking about what I’m really supposed to be doing with my life. For now, it’s this. Well, this and my full-time job. I also plan to seek out other fun projects to feature in this blog, because given the increasingly heavy weight resting on everyone’s shoulders, I think we should strive to take life a little less seriously and reward those who head up such efforts.

Later this week, expect a little story on the founders of Dropspots.org. They help people add personal character to the streets by providing a Web site for those who like to hide and/or find things in random hiding places in public areas. I’m planning to use the map they provide to show where I’ve hidden some of my tiles.

So far, Tile Fort Lauderdale makes sense to me and I plan, at least for now, to paint each and every last one of those tiles. I’m obsessive at times.

My last post included Tile #1, titled Pink Kitty ("Milton’s mama told him to visualize his dreams so he started to think pink.") and this post includes Tile #5 Red-Haired Girl ("Her muses were many. Her troubles were few.") and #3 Questionable Kiss (“It was written all over his face, but the answers eluded him.”). If you want them, check back as I’ll be posting the hiding places on Dropspots.org. The paint's still drying on #2 and #4.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lure of the tiles

The most basic explanation of Tile Fort Lauderdale is that it’s about one woman painting pictures on tiles and planting them all over town. But really, it’s about more than that, so much more that I can only explain over time, as I paint the first batch of tiles that I hope to have on the street within two weeks.

Several months ago, I went walking at Birch Park with a friend and afterwards we decided to meet at Dirty Ernie’s in Fort Lauderdale for barbecue sandwiches (on the best Bimini bread ever). I arrived first and while standing around the parking lot waiting, I spotted something shiny and aqua on the ground. I picked it up and, much to my delight, it had loads of little beads and eyes all over it. I didn’t know exactly what it was, just that it was gorgeous. When my friend Jane arrived, I proudly showed her the treasure I had discovered and she was duly impressed, noting that if she had arrived minutes earlier, she would have found it.

It turns out the little gem we were both fawning over was simply some kind of fishing lure – albeit a very special-looking one. I carried it around in my purse, showing it to friends when the opportunity arose. Eventually, on Jane’s birthday I tied it to a string wrapped around a foil-covered bowl of potato salad and gave it to her along with the latest Found magazine. She was thrilled to finally own the lure and transformed the parking lot find into two dangly earrings that she probably shouldn’t wear while swimming in the ocean.

I sometimes wonder about the past life of this lure and whether the person who dropped it ever missed it. They'd never know that the lure became a a topic of lunch conversation or that it lived in my purse for months, only to be brought out for show-and-tell sessions. They'd also never know that their lure went on to become earrings and inspired a writer to launch her first blog and paint tiles to hide all over Fort Lauderdale just for fun.

It’s been five months since I rescued that magical lure from it's possible tire-crushing demise, but it’s only now that I realize what’s so special about it. Picking up that beady, aqua, eye-laden lure represents everything that fascinates me in life ­‑‑ mystery, wonder, discovery, excitement and the realization that one simple second in time can change the course of your life in rather unusual ways.

Not that any of this explains what led me to launch a tiny project called Tile Fort Lauderdale, but it's a start.