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Staff Writer Julia Craven takes a “selfie” in the traffic mirror behind University Methodist Church, one of the tasks enlisted in the scavenger hunt app

Scavenging for Franklin Street art

Armed with just an iPhone and a bottle of Arizona Green Tea, I set out across downtown Chapel Hill on the hunt for several art pieces carefully hidden around Franklin Street.

This public art project in scavenger hunt form is part of the Windows on Chapel Hill exhibit, which is one of five projects chosen to be part of Chapel Hill’s Downtown Art Program.

The showcase starts with “Depiction” a QR code painted by local artist Parasol B.

Hunters download the Depiction app and scan a miniature version of the painted code with their iPhone, Android or Blackberry smart phones.

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Junior Mariah Monsanto attempts to remove a staple with her keys from the light post on the corner of S. Columbia and Franklin St.

The hunt begins at Vimala’s Curryblossom Café at 431 W. Franklin St. Searchers then set off on the journey to find 13 works of art embedded in the infrastructure of downtown.

Manju Rajendran, an employee at Vimala’s and a daughter of owner Vimala Rajendran, said “Depiction” has brought quite a bit of foot traffic into the café.

“I’ve seen lots of people put up cell phones and capture (the) QR code,” she said.

She also said people have remarked that the hunt is a unique way of displaying artwork.

I started at Vimala’s and was then led across the street to the next piece of art, entitled “Imprint,” which was a footprint in the sidewalk. There was a QR code nearby that I had to scan to continue on to the next work. It was on a trashcan … yuck, right?

The remainder of the hunt took me up one side of Franklin Street, onto the edge of campus and then back down near Vimala’s.

Pursuers of these hidden gems also get the pleasure of photographing their feats. Each work provides instructions for a photograph, including tasks like pulling a staple out of a telephone pole and blowing a horn outside of Hanes Art Center.

I got most of them, but, because I was alone, I wasn’t able to complete all of the recommended photo tasks. Bummer.

The spots I hit included the hot pink stairs in the narrow alleyway just past Starbucks. I also managed to throw my jacket onto the hooks on the back side of the Vespa Ristorante building. And that horn that sits in the courtyard next to Hanes Art Center? It doesn’t actually make the loud sound you would expect when you blow into it.

So I leave you with two tokens of advice:

1) Do the scavenger hunt — as soon as possible.
2) Don’t be a loner taking shameless selfies in front of places on Franklin Street, like I was. Bring a friend!


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