Do you have a passion for the hunt?
This year, Gulfport’s annual Gecko World festivities will be complemented by a grassroots art “hide and seek” event organized by hometown artists.
The premise is simple: Artists create their gecko-themed pieces and at 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 7 they will hide the lizards locally for “seekers” to discover until the cutoff at 5 p.m.
With gecko-inspired paintings, jewelry and figurines buried around Gulfport – largely in the downtown area – organizers will post pre-photos and live clues on the public Facebook page.
“Everyone loves a treasure hunt,” Gecko Art & Seek organizer Kelli Lapuma said. “We’re hoping this brings people together.”
Though not affiliated with the official Gecko World sponsor, the Gulfport Merchants Chamber, the reptilian scavenger hunt seeks to bring together Gulfport’s lizard-loving community before the main events in August.
Hide and Seek
The idea started with mushrooms.
Lapuma is responsible for a Gulfport treasure hunt called “Game of Shrooms” that invited artists and art finders to engage in a similar premise, but with fungi-themed creations on June 12.
The mushroom hunt was part of a larger worldwide event – artist Attaboy’s Game of Shrooms – which led international art hunters to find hidden relics and post them on the site.
Lapuma herself hid mushroom paintings at the Gulfport Public Library behind a book about truffles.
“It’s so much fun to watch people find things,” Lapuma said.
That event inspired Lapuma to organize a Gecko-themed art drop.
“It’s like getting a piece of someone’s personality as a treasure,” Lapuma said. “It’s sort of personal.”
A New Tradition
This year, there are at least seven creators donating their time and art for the hunt. Each artist plans to hide a multitude of options throughout Gulfport.
“A particular resident in Gulfport – she’s passed now – used to hide art and tell everyone to go find it,” Gecko Art & Seek artist Zora deBodisco said. “‘Game of Shrooms’ reminded me of that.”
Some creators were drawn to the idea because of its similarities to the popular 2000’s trend of geocaching. Participants found “treasures” through GPS coordinates posted on one main website.
“I used to hide things all over Pennsylvania,” said artist Kim Bonney. “It’s just a fun concept.”
Hiders and seekers are invited to an after-event the same day that will connect “behind the screen” interactions. A time and location is to be determined.
To participate, search for “GeckoFest Gecko Art n Seek 2021” on Facebook and ask to join the fun.