“Frost” Brings Art Seekers into Anchorage Parks

Frost is one of Anchorage’s newest public art projects. It’s a scavenger hunt with photo clues that lead you to a place where the artists have mixed lights and film into a temporary art piece. It’s called “creative placemaking” and aims to get people out into the city’s parks and help them see the space in a different way. A team of seekers and followed the clues to find the newest installation.

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Readers, beware: this story may spoil your search. So if you’re hoping to find the hidden art exhibit completely on your own, stop reading and stop the audio player on your computer.

“Hi, I’m unnaturally telling my name into the microphone….” joked Krystal Garrison as she did exactly that.

The clue we used to find Frost. Photo by Sierra Mills and posted to frostanchorage.org.
The clue we used to find Frost. Photo by Sierra Mills and posted to frostanchorage.org.

Krystal had heard about Frost and let me tag along on her expedition to find it. She roped her fiancee Corey Crawford into the outing and their trusty dog Leo.

The first stop was inside at the computer to look up the clue on the Frost website.

“So I just googled ‘Anchorage Frost’…” Krystal narrated.

“You got Frost Dental, so I guess we can go get our teeth cleaned…” I responded.

With a more refined search we find the first clue — a picture of a snowy lawn with towering lights. In the distance you can see a blurry fence and a dark area on the edge.

“I would have a hard time guessing on this picture to be honest with you,” Krystal said.

But Corey knew it instantly.

“That’s *****,” Corey states matter-of-factly.

“That’s *****?” Krystal questioned, disbelievingly.

“Yeah, that’s *****.”

“He’s super visual,” Krystal said to explain how he instantly knew the site of a park he rarely visited from a dark, half blurry photo.

“Yeah, the duck pond’s right here. The parking lot is right in front of it.” He pointed out vague features.

Corey said it makes sense because the park is easily accessible by car, bus, bike, and foot, but people don’t always think to hang out there.

Gretchen Weiss is one of the project coordinators. She said the five exhibits will be placed in different parks in the city for short periods throughout the winter.

“Anchorage is huge, and we’ve got over 200 parks, and each one has it’s own flavor and variety. And we kind of took the personality of what that ‘Frost’ was going to be like and what that parks were like and we kind of matched them up.”

This time the Frost exhibit is a short film made from footage gathered around the world, so the setting has a more classic cinematic feel.

Weiss said the temporary, outdoor exhibits invite people to interact with strangers that they may never otherwise meet.

“For Frost it’s dark, and people are wearing lots of layers so you really don’t have a whole lot to go off of somebody except for here’s one marshmallow, and you’re a marshmallow and you see this thing and it’s pretty cool and you can start talking when maybe usually you wouldn’t,” she explained.

When we arrived at ***** to look for the movie, the park was empty, despite the relatively warm weather. Leo the dog leads the way. As we enter the park, Corey finds the scene of the clue.

“You remember seeing the rock in the picture?”

“No, I don’t,” Krystal said.

“These rocks were in the picture. That’s the duck pond to the left.”

Leo bounds ahead, and we follow him straight to the movie.

“You totally called it,” Krystal said.

The film was projected from a locked box onto a white wooden board. Extension cords trail away from the set up. Krystal watches it while standing outside, in the cold. She was impressed.

“This is so awesome that you’re bringing art to the public. And you’re leaving it out there for people to explore and discover on they’re own whether they’re meaning to or not,” she said. “But it’s also got to be kind of nerve wracking to leaving this equipment and this art and, you know, all the time spent involved setting it up. Hopefully people will enjoy it for what it is and not feel the need to tamper with it.”

Krystal’s statement turned out to be prophetic. Within a week of our successful quest, cords began to disappear and the set up had to be altered to make it more secure. But Weiss said they’ll try to keep it running until December 6 when they’ll reveal the final location and host a drive-in movie at the *******.

OK, I’ll give you another clue. It’s that big building in midtown where you can go to read for free…

Anne Hillman is the healthy communities editor at Alaska Public Media and a host of Hometown, Alaska. Reach her at ahillman@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Anne here.

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