Last November, the Aleutian Arts Council AAC decided to hold an art scavenger hunt in Unalaska/ Dutch Harbor. In the spirit of typical AAC events, the hunt focused on supporting local art and artists in the community. The contest was open to everyone to participate and tried to catch the interests of both adults and children. It included a variety of prize giveaways and recognition of anyone could successfully completed all of the tasks.
We called it The Great Unalaska Art Hunt. All players had a chance to be part of a prize drawing, and there were smaller prizes for all participants. We also granted the title of Art Aficionado to anyone who successfully completed all the tasks. The hunt ran for 69 days, allowing enough time to complete the 58 tasks. There were a variety of activities, including cross-word and logic puzzles, hunting for clues around the community, art projects, riddles and codes, identifying and photographing local art pieces, questions about Aleutian art history, and other art-theme challenges. The tasks were divided into four levels, each level increasing in difficulty. The hunt was designed to be interactive, requiring the participants to report back to the Puzzle Masters, and encouraging players to contact designated local artists for hints and clues.
All of the members of the AAC board were challenged with creating some of the tasks, which included many cleaver ideas. The logistics for organizing, promoting and running the hunt was assigned to AAC board members Megan Dean and Jim Bakaitis. One of our local professional artists, Carolyn Reed, joined the team to advise and to develop the art-theme crossword puzzle.
At the heart of the contest was the hope that players would experience the full range of the local art culture. However, once COVID struck we had to exclude activities that involved going into public buildings or attending local art events. We quickly made changes, while players were just starting the hunt. This seemed to hamper some from going beyond registration for the event. but we had a hand full of players who continued, such as Beth Whitaker and her children.
At the end of the art hunt, all players received participation prizes, which were locally made or designed crafts or works of art. Beth Whitaker and Jolene Longo were the winners of the grand prize drawings. Beth Whitaker completed all of the art hunt tasks, so she was granted the title of Art Aficionado. Because the Whitaker family was in Travel Quarantine, Beth’s coronation took place on her front porch. The event included use of face masks and appropriate social distancing:
AAC has plans to do another art scavenger hunt next year. Perhaps by then the COVID Response will not be so strict as to prevent people from visiting the works of art found inside our public buildings, such as The Museum of the Aleutians. We certainly hope that participants will be able to attend art related social events next year, such as the Community Art Show, Just Desserts, and the Coffee House. Whether it is a limited event, or one that gives players the full experience of local art culture, we expect that next year the Unalaska Puzzle Masters will have something strange and exciting for our community.