When you think, “art scene,” Fairfax may not be the first location that comes to mind, but soon enough it will be. Already, there are a number of art galleries that have opened up over the past few years, including Olly Olly, Artbot Gallery and Epicure Café. The arts community is growing so fast that you shouldn’t be surprised if you find artwork on the sidewalks. Since August 2013, residents, visitors and tourists who may not know any better have been able to find artwork to take home without a price tag and without any questions in public areas of Fairfax.

The artwork is placed anywhere — on benches, in parks, outside restaurants, here, there and anywhere. It’s all part of the global “Free Art” movement, called Free Art Friday. The movement expanded to Fairfax thanks to mixed media collage artist Jessica Kallista.
Kallista said, “I was looking for a way to interact with the local art community and with the community in general that was free of any sort of financial transaction, something to promote interconnectivity and art in suburbia.”

With Free Art Friday NoVA, Kallista has been able to introduce art to the masses in an unintimidating and exciting way. She hopes to convey to others is that there is art everywhere, even if you’re not looking for it.

“In our everyday lives, we often get so busy, and we forget to recognize that art, love and wonder surround us at every moment. We become apathetic to even the possibility of generosity, and bliss and art. Leaving unexpected pieces of art in the street, on a bench, a sidewalk or a table somewhere — art that is freely given to anyone — is a way of disrupting that apathy and confronting the way in which we believe our everyday lives must unfold,” Kallista said.

In Kallista’s own works, she often tackles this thought process by collaging “mundane” artifacts and ephemera with photography and other mixed media, transforming everyday objects into dreamlike artworks. The narrative she establishes is that of “being a stranger in a strange land.”

Other artists are able to join the movement with ease; simply leave artwork somewhere, anywhere. The generosity may not only make someone’s day, but may also stir curiosity in another to explore the arts in their own way as well. All that’s asked is that the artist leave information about Free Art Friday NoVA somewhere on the artwork. If the artist leaves a photo of the artwork on the Free Art Friday NoVA Facebook page, it will be easier for the Free Art Finder to contact them as well.

According to Kallista, “Seeing all of the happiness and excitement of all of the Free Art Finders is the best part of Free Art Friday.”

If you want some tips on where to go to pick up some free artwork, previous drop-off locations include Epicure Café at 11104 Lee Highway, Dolcezza at 2905 District Avenue and the Angelika Film Center & Café at 2911 District Avenue (all in Fairfax, VA).

To learn more about Free Art Friday NoVA, check out the Facebook page here. To see more of Jessica Kallista’s artwork, go to her website here.

About Michelle Goldchain

Michelle is a photojournalist who loves to live life by never sitting still. You can find her in art galleries in Dupont Circle, ethnic restaurants in Adams Morgan and comedy clubs in Arlington. In her spare time, when she's not typing away at a computer screen, she's probably listening to moody electronic music, watching cat videos or doodling.
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