Brad Troemel’s “Freecaching” method of storing & selling art from Central Park. Image courtesy of Tomorrow Gallery
It started when an artist got tired of paying two high rents. Brad Troemel was switching between Airbnb-ing his apartment to pay for his studio, and renting out his studio to pay for his apartment, sleeping in one or the other. As an artist, sculptor, teacher and web entrepreneur in New York City, he needed both: a place to live, and a place to store his work. In his search to make it all cheaper, he posed a question: What if he could store it somewhere for free until the time of purchase? In the tree trunks and cliffs of Central Park, Troemel found his solution.
Freecaching is Troemel’s method of nestling works in the city’s largest nature deposit, logging the geocoordinates on the map, posting clues at Tomorrow Gallery, and dispensing those coordinates to purchasers of his work. Buyers are responsible for geocaching their way to the goods—like a modern tech-enhanced treasure hunt. Since mid-November, Troemel has been happy to guide patrons to the loot (if they’re not up for going the long and sometimes-obstacled hunt solo).But the first person to freecache a Troemel original didn’t ask for directions. After hearing that Troemel hid two “freebies” in the park and released the coordinates to the public, Al Bedell from Brooklyn and her friend Forest went on a hunt. The Creators Project talked to Al about the the scavenging.
The Creators Project: How did you hear about Brad Troemel’s 'freecache'-able art?Al Bedell: I was friends with him online for awhile actually, so I’d heard about it early on. But the day that I went to Central Park to geocache, I didn’t actually know I’d be going on a hunt. I was at St. Marks with my friend Forest, and he said, “I wanna go find some art. Feel like Central Park today?” I said, “What are you talking about?”When he told me that Brad Troemel hid a bunch of his art there, and that there were two freebies, I said I was up for helping him find them. Forest got the coordinates from the show’s opening the night before. He’s actually seeing-impaired, so he kinda needed me to do the actual searching.
What did you use for the hunt?Honestly we just had to plug the coordinates into Google Maps. And then we just started scavenging.Was it difficult or did you find them right away?It was more of a challenge than I thought. I almost had to get stitches on my knee. We were on the Upper West Side near Strawberry Fields, and one of the pieces was hidden in one of those rock outcroppings in the park. I basically fell off a cliff in the name of geocaching for Brad’s art.So it was hidden in a cliff crevice?Yep—and I literally reached over the edge to get it. No stitches though!How about the other one?The second was a little off the beaten path, wedged between rocks. That wasn’t as treacherous to find. Both artworks weren’t too hard to recognize as such. They were small, triple-wrapped items, abnormal but definitely there on purpose.
Did you decide to keep what you found?At first I was like, “I wonder how much these would go for!” But they were so cool we ended up keeping them.What was Forest doing this whole time?He was watching! He kinda initiated the operation and I was the one on the ground. We each kept one of the pieces. He was like, “I’m glad we found two, we can each have one,” and yeah, it was a cute moment.Would you do something like that again?It was really fun. I’d never done a scavenger hunt before. As soon as it was over, I wanted to go back and do it again. It was like Pokemon Go, but real.
You can see Brad Troemel’s Freecaching exhibition at Tomorrow Gallery from January 2-8, 2017.Related:Artist Puts Ants to Work in New ExhibitIt's Art: Wall Mount for Vintage Furby CollectionAn Artist's Grocery List Becomes a Giant Monument in Central Park