Friday, June 29, 2012

The $10 Art Mystery comes to an end

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 9:14 AM

I neglected to send Narrative Urge a Change of Address. Probably woulda been easier if I knew who it was.
  • Debbie Michaud
  • I neglected to send Narrative Urge a Change of Address. Probably woulda been easier if I knew who it was.
A year ago April, I received a piece of mail at work that would lead to one of the more memorable experiences I've had while working at Creative Loafing. It included free money, cryptograms, breaking and entering (kinda), free cocktails, and plenty of fist shaking. An envelope inside an envelope contained $10, a quote printed on a slip of paper and a handwritten letter urging me to "follow my narrative urge," whatever that meant. I put up a blog post about it. Commenters went crazy trying to piece it all together. Other recipients of the mystery mail started to emerge online. Former CL-er Wyatt Williams and I set out to solve it once and for all, canvassing Atlanta with the "clues" as our guide. (This is where the booze and trespassing happens.) Every new lead felt like it could be "IT," but each resulted in a dead end. We became frustrated, but, what exactly were we looking for again? As Wyatt put it:

Did I expect the clues to lead to other clues? To a manuscript with ten stories? To more ten dollar bills? We sipped our drinks, looked out the window, and laughed at the day. Maybe this is what we had been looking for all along.

That may sound a bit sentimental, but it turned out to basically be true. The anonymous artist behind the project said so himself (or herself) in the comments:

your report of the downtown trek - ending with a beanbag toss, free cocktails in a snazzy hotel, and laughter at the day - approaches the heart of why I launched the 10 Stories High project. ("Maybe this is what we had been looking for all along." I should borrow that line.)

Thank you to everyone who has taken part so far.

It's not over. My story needs an ending. Art projects never really finish, anyway. A painter completes a painting, but when are people done experiencing it? When does the artist stop learning from what's been made?

This week, though, the project has come to an end. I received a package from Narrative Urge containing a 15-page document that marries the hundred or so disparate quotes used throughout the project over the last year into one story. Sampled authors include, Natasha Trethwey, Blake Butler, Jamie Iredell, Jessica Handler and Karin Slaughter, David Bottoms, Terra McVoy and more, all accounted for in the footnotes. You can read it in its entirety below.

Thanks Narrative Urge. It was great while it lasted.

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