Hidden art creates a community in Morgantown.
Morgan Neccuzi spotted Dolly Parton outside of Stalnaker Hall one Friday in June. The Queen of Country was pint-sized, painted in watercolor, and printed on a sticker. The artist behind this darling Dolly was Marissa Gain. Three months into quarantine, she and her boyfriend started the Facebook group Free Art Friday, inspired by Daniel Cain, the co-owner of Dough Re Mi bakery in Buckhannon. Cain started Free Art Friday there in 2014. The premise is simple: Each Friday, an artist hides art around town, then posts a clue about its location on the Free Art Friday Facebook page. After that, it’s finders keepers.
In July and August, Gain hid a Mr. T teapot-shaped ceramic at Hilleary Family Dentistry, a glass duck from Ron Hinkle Glass in the Fat Angelo’s Pizzeria & Pub parking lot, and Mothgirl prints at the Westover Community Building.
“Art is a luxury a lot of the time,” Gain says. “I’m interested in people having access to art and experiences with art that are affordable.”
In September, Neccuzi decided to pay it forward. She painted a pumpkin on a 4-by-7 canvas, stuck a Post-it note on it with information about the Facebook group, and hid the painting in a tree in Krepps Park. A couple found it later that day, joined the Facebook group, and posted: “This will now be a decoration we put out every year. Thank you, whoever made this!”
What began as a way to beat quarantine boredom grew into an online community. “It was such a fun way to find some new art and share something I had made,” Necuzzi says.