Explore Random Acts of Art and Ways to Participate

Posted on June 2, 2021 at 6:00 am

By Abra Cole

Have you found art out in the wild?

If you’ve spied some art while out on a walk in your neighborhood, at a bus stop, or on a chair in a café, then you have probably found the kind of art I’m talking about.

If not, keep your eyes open for the following types of art out in the world. You may even be inspired to make and share some of your own.

If you do, check local ordinances and laws before leaving art in public places.

Art Abandonment

Just the other day, I was out walking the neighborhood when I happened upon a small painted canvas, right there on the side of the road. Attached was a note, instructing me to grab the art before someone else did, so I quickly complied!

And then, I logged into the Facebook group associated with my find: Art Abandonment. Artists and art finders around the world gather here to share the art they plan to abandon and the art they have discovered! I find it wonderful to see all the art being abandoned and found around the world.

And it turns out that there is another group specific to our region: PNW Art Abandonment.

The Art Abandonment concept, started by Michael deMeng and Andrea Matus deMeng, is for artists to create and share “random acts of art” wherever they travel. And while this has been going on for several years, it has taken on a whole new importance when we are looking for ways to connect with others without getting too close to them!

Art Abandonment is for anyone and is super simple.

  • Step 1: Make art.
  • Step 2: Leave it somewhere for someone else to find.

Easy right?

It is best practice to include a tag or card stating that the finder can keep the free art or leave it for someone else to find. The tag should be big enough for the finder to know for sure that what they have found is meant for them keep. Both the Art Abandonment and PNW Art Abandonment Facebook groups have printable tags as PDFs that you can include with your creations, or you can make your own.

Does it matter what type of art you make to participate? Not really.

Some artists leave small painted canvases, cross stitch pieces, handmade jewelry, pottery, or fiber art creations. Really, anything will do. If you have made it and want to share it with someone else, then you can.

Browsing through the Facebook group, I did see at least one artist who was leaving large canvases around their town. Most artists leave smaller pieces or bobbles for others to find. It’s a charming thought to picture someone finding a treasure that I made and left purposefully behind.

For inspiration, check out this book and local shop:

Here are a few other shared art movements that you can take part in.


Botjoy is a similar art movement with a specific vessel: dominos! Gary Hirsch started this project in 2014, in which he draws robots on the backs of dominos, each with a special mission to help the holder embrace courage, joy, love, and inspiration.

Hirsch enjoys gifting these bots as well as hiding them around town. The best part of all this is that Hirsch wholeheartedly encourages others to steal this idea to make and share their own bot creations with the world.

Warmth Drops

Are you a fiber artist? Do you have a pile of hats and scarves that you’ve made over the years, and aren’t quite sure what to do with them? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to make hats and scarves?

You can put together a “Warmth Drop” this fall! Place each of your creations in a plastic bag (to protect them from weather), and along with a note to indicate the item is a gift, leave them out somewhere near where people experiencing homelessness gather. You could also contact a local shelter or even a retirement home to see if they’d like a warmth drop inside their facility.

Books to inspire you:

Painted Rocks

Painting and leaving rocks for others to find has been a popular movement for a few years, so you may already be familiar with it. Once you find one painted rock, they seem to be everywhere! While strolling in your own neighborhood, hiking a trail, or waiting for the bus, you’re bound to see a bright splash of color that indicates a painted rock.

The popularity of this movement may owe to the fact that it’s a super easy art project for all ages. All you need are rocks, acrylic paint, and a sealant.

Megan Murphy started the Kindness Rocks Project in 2015 when she left a rock with an inspirational quote for someone else to find. You can check out Kindness Rocks Spokane Facebook group and the Spokane Valley Kindness Rocks Facebook group to share your finds.

One great Spokane location I’ve found for spotting painted rocks is Wyakin Park on the north side of town. There is an ever growing, ever changing painted rock labyrinth. Take a few of your rock creations along to add to it!

At our libraries, we have even found painted rocks left inside the library, hidden among the shelves and outside among the foliage near walkways and even on tree limbs!

Get inspiration for this rockin’ art movement:

Guerilla Art

While many might think of guerilla art as just graffiti, there are many types of guerilla art that aren’t permanent. My favorite examples include realistic 3D chalk art, stop sign Post-It note messages, and LEGO patchworks.

Here are some reads to check out:


Craftivism has been around for a long time and its purpose is to use your craft to share a message to inspire or spark discussion for the greater good.

Typically, these activities are fiber related, such as yarn bombing, which is the act of crocheting or knitting around a public object, usually complete with a written message. Other times, a message is stitched or sewn before being hung publicly.

You can learn more about craftivism with the following:

Little Art Galleries

Little Art Galleries are similar to Little Free Libraries. These miniature galleries feature ever-changing art pieces made by passing visitors.

The first one of these popped up in the Seattle area. There is another in Palm Springs.

I am still on the lookout for a Little Art Gallery somewhere in the Spokane County, but I have yet to find one.

UPDATE (Dec 1, 2022): I’ve learned of several Little Art Galleries in Spokane County, listed below. Be sure to check them out while you’re abandoning art, and grab some new art for your own collection!

If you come across more galleries located in Spokane County, please let me know!

Share Smart

When you are planning to abandon your art or painted rocks or take part in any of the above social art movements, it is important to remember one thing: Do not to leave your art in places where it isn’t welcome.

State and national parks aim to keep their trails clear, promoting the Leave No Trace principle.

Instead, focus on leaving your beautiful creations where they are wanted and will be easily found (checking for local ordinances and laws of course). Local parks, along a sidewalk, or at the bus stop—these all make great spots to share your art with your neighbors and the world.

I hope to see you and your art out there!

Abra Cole

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