International Art and Found Day gains traction in Kingston area

For the past three years, artists around the world, and here in the Kingston area, have been sharing their artwork as part of International Art and Found Day, and this year is no exception.

The event sees artists hide pieces of art in their communities, then share hints on their Instagram pages or other social media platforms with the hashtag #ArtAndFoundDay. It’s a scavenger hunt for free original pieces of art by local artists. The annual day is March 12, which falls on a Tuesday this year.

Napanee artist Lisa Ray Koenig has been participating in this free treasure hunt style event since it began and has been instrumental at bringing local awareness to the event.

“The feedback has been incredible. It is a day in March that people look forward to in a month that is usually dodgy weather-wise. Those hunting for artwork really enjoyed the clues I shared on my Facebook page which made the search more intriguing for them,” she shared with Kingstonist.

“I have the youngest Groovy Cats Art Collector who comes out with her Mom every year in search of a piece of art.”

Adele Webster, a professional artist based in Kingston who layers washes of paint on wood panels to create her work, which is inspired by nature’s landscapes, and Michelle Reid, whose uses confident brushstrokes to deconstruct scenes and enhance the drama between light, shadow, and saturated colours, echoed these sentiments.

“I love creating clues for scavenger hunts as well as sharing my work. I’ve received messages from happy hunters that are out searching with their family, as well as hunters that just love the thrill of the hunt. I’m happy to play along and help provide a little entertainment,” Webster shared with Kingstonist in an email.

Adele Webster at her art show in Hamilton, September 2023. Photo via Adele Webster Art Facebook page.

She added that she first learned about International Art and Found Day through other artists on Instagram sharing their participation.

“Anything that brings awareness to our local art scene is great for the community. We are very lucky that Kingston has such a thriving artist network. Events like this give Kingstonians a glimpse into just how many incredible artists we have,” she expressed.

Reid, participating in her third International Art and Found Day this year, added that this event is an excellent way to give back to the community.

“Not everyone can buy art and this is a great way for someone to start collecting for free,” she said.

When asked why she thought this event was important for the local art scene, Reid shared that it’s a fun way to get outdoors in the often in-between weather of March.

“It creates a lot of buzz for the artists, which is always appreciated, AND it’s something fun to do for free in Kingston. With warmer weather coming, this is going to be a great outdoor adventure for all participants while making art accessible,” she said.

“I’m happy to give when I can and get a kick out of making someone’s day a little brighter.“

While Reid is offering one hidden piece of art, Webster said she is hiding two or three pieces of art, and Koenig shared she’ll have around 20.

“This event is incredibly important to the local art scene,” Koenig echoed. “It brings the art community together while introducing the residents to the vibrancy of the local art scene. Each package of FREE ART has a note from the artist encouraging the recipient to learn more about the artist.”

Koenig said that she is now so well-known as an Art and Found Day participant, and a local artist in general, that she has “hunters” who follow her to see where she might hide her artwork.

“I have had people stop me in a store and ask ‘Are you Lisa Ray of Groovy Cats Art… I found one of your paintings!’ It is truly awesome bringing the joy of art to someone. Being able to pay my art forward is a wonderful way to encourage others to appreciate art in all forms,” she said.

While it seems that Koenig must be very busy painting to have so many pieces to share, she has also been busy being instrumental in spreading the word about International Art and Found Day.

One artist who cites Koenig as the reason she participates in the annual event is Joanne Hudson.

Hudson, the Communications Director of the Greater Napanee Area Arts Association, told Kingstonist she sees this event as an excellent way to give back to the community.

“This is my way of thanking, and giving back to, the community who have supported us as artists in so many ways, whether it be through monetary sponsorship of our art shows and festivals, showcasing, or buying our art. And, it’s fun!” she expressed.

A self-described “late bloomer boomer artist,” Hudson, like many local artists, made a return to art — after 30 years away — during the pandemic.

“Time at home allowed me to focus, learn, and paint. This time, I chose acrylics, enrolled in an online course, and began my journey of learning the art of acrylic painting. That was four years ago,” she said.

“Since then, I’ve created hundreds of paintings, have participated in International Art and Found Day and several art festivals, with more opportunities coming up this spring and summer.”

She also said that International Art and Found Day was the perfect way to take her art out of her little studio and into a public forum, with the bonus of exposing kids to the wide world of art.

“I have had people who found my art contact me via email, expressing their appreciation and excitement at finding a piece of art. Another person searched me out at an art festival to introduce themselves and express their delight at having found a painting. Yet another recipient made a fun day out of Art and Found Day with her kiddos, going to the park to search for art treasures, found one of mine and had it framed for display in her home. She said her kids were so excited to find the art. Bonus: art appreciation for the youngsters.”

Hudson has six pieces ready for the event which she will be hiding in Napanee. She did share an early hint with Kingstonist:

“The River Walk in Napanee is a popular place to take a stroll. Stop awhile at one of the park benches to watch the falls at Springside Park.”

Another local artist who was inspired after hearing about the event from Koenig is Rob Mooy. A retired photojournalist, Mooy shared that International Art and Found Day quickly became a family activity.

“Last year, a good friend of mine, Lisa Ray Koenig, introduced us to this incredible event. She was participating, hiding some of her artwork, and my family were excited to search for her work,” he shared.

“We had so much fun searching for the free artwork last year, we decided to participate in this year’s event. It started out with only myself wanting to hide a couple of my photographs. It didn’t take long before both my wife, Cheryl, and daughter, Elizabeth, decided to join in the fun.”

Mooy said he is honoured to be a part of the annual event this year, and made of point of sharing that his Facebook Page is the best place to find the hints for his art, and his family’s pieces.

“Art and Found Day is a great way for established and new artists to share their work with art lovers around the world. To be among the over 1,500 artists across 51 countries participating is mind-boggling,” he expressed.

“In the Kingston and Napanee area alone, there are already over 15 talented artists signed up to take part.”

Mooy noted that he will hide two photographs in Napanee and two in Kingston, and his wife, Cheryl, and daughter Elizabeth — a recent graduate of Fleming College’s Haliburton School of Art and Design — will have one or two pieces each to hide.

Cheryl Mooy also shared her thoughts about International Art and Found Day:

Cheryl Mooy with artwork for Art & Found Day. Submitted photo.

“I enjoyed [Art and Found Day] so much that, even though I am not a professional artist, I wanted to contribute for others to share in the fun. So, this year I made an embellished painting that is entitled Murder’s Treasures,” she stated.

“I painted a willow tree with two crows and then added pieces of jewelry in the tree. Groups of crows are called a “murder of crows”. Crows are known for gifting shiny objects to people that feed them. These gifts can be items such as keys, bones, and other shiny items. At our home, we feed all sorts of birds and animals year round. Crows are one type of bird we feed. The picture is to pay tribute to all the birds which visit our garden.”

Joanne Kells Chalmers said she also learned about International Art and Found Day through other artists on Instagram.

A sneak peek of the two pieces by Joanne Kells Chalmers. Submitted photo.

“I read about it and [with a friend] decided to do it, even though no one had heard about it before. The concept of a stranger finding your art randomly seemed like fun! A small act of kindness. We even did it throughout the year because it was so much fun,” she shared.

“I like to think that the person that finds it is meant to have it. Or for whatever reason they could give it away, pass it on to someone who needed a lift more than they did.”

Chalmers, who has participated since 2021, will be sharing two pieces of art this year – one is an acrylic painting and the other is a mixed media collage.

“I think [Art and Found Day] helps build a community of support for both the artist and the art lover,” she shared with Kingstonist.

“I think it’s really important to let people know that there are artists among them. Perhaps it will encourage others to try to make their own art. It may give them confidence to participate, and realize that their work has value. I really think artists thrive in community and I always try to encourage people to reach out and connect with that community.”

Amanda Boutilier, a self-taught Canadian artist and photographer who paints in both acrylic and watercolours, is participating in her third hidden art event this year. Kingstonist caught up with her last year when she shared more about why she decided to participate.

This year, she told Kingstonist she will be hiding one piece of art in Amherstview, and said she’s undecided whether it will be a watercolour or acrylic painting.

“The past two years I’ve made a riddle for ‘prospective art hunters’ as a means to have clues to the painting’s location. I typically keep the piece a surprise until it’s found. I also play around with photography which is really enjoyable for me. I always have felt that I see things in a different way than other people, and I enjoy exploring that through photographs,” Boutilier shared.

Like Michelle Reid, Boutilier stated that International Art and Found Day improves the accessibility to art.

“Original paintings are often unaffordable for some families, so this event is a really great opportunity for people to collect art that they otherwise, wouldn’t be able to buy,” she expressed.

Find almost all these artists on Instagram, where they will share hints on where to find their original creations:

Charge your smartphone and put on your walking shoes on Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2024, when these artists and more start sharing hints on Instagram for where they’ve hidden their pieces for International Art and Found Day!

Search #ArtAndFoundDay and #ArtAndFound hashtags on both Instagram and Facebook, as a few of these artists said they plan to share to both platforms to reach the most people possible.

Learn more about the history of International Art and Found Day on the event’s website.

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