How do you like them apples?
That’s the question of the month in Southington, which has launched a public-art project titled Apples & Arts: Thirty area artists have painted 37, 3-feet-tall pre-made fiberglass apples that have been placed around town, and you’re invited to find them all.
A scavenger hunt, hosted by Southington Community Cultural Arts, runs through Nov. 30. Anyone who finds all 37 apples will have their names placed into a raffle to win a $100 holiday gift basket. Hunters must pick up a form with clues and instructions at the SoCCA office at 93 Main St.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Unlike many similar public-art projects, such as the popular Cow Parades, almost all of the apples are indoors at area businesses. Hunters must go inside to find them and maybe chat with the person who runs that particular business.
“One of the purposes of the scavenger hunt is to connect businesses with the community, to make them potential clients,” says Mary DeCroce, executive director of SoCCA and one of the apple artists. After the hunt is over, the apples will be exhibited around town, and then sold if still available.
Here’s a peek at some of the apples to be uncovered (locations are not revealed). To start your hunt, visit SoCCA Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (forms are returned at the SoCCA office). A list of the artists and more information can be found at southingtonarts.org.
Artist Billy Pagoni has autism and limited verbal skills.
“His way of communicating is when he meets somebody and he feels a connection, he will make these cartoon characters for that person,” DeCroce says. “His artwork gives you an insight into who he is inside.”
Pagoni, who participates in SoCCA’s All Access Program, covered his apple with a collage of hundreds of similar cartoon characters, all smiling.
One of DeCroce’s apples, in honor of a woman who passed away, features an Emily Dickinson poem:
“Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all. And sweetest in the gale is heard and sore must be the storm that could abash the little bird that kept so many warm. I’ve heard it in the chillest land and on the strangest sea yet never in extremity, It asked a crumb of me.”
DeCroce’s lemon-yellow egg shows a bright red bird on the other side.
Kristen Kelly had fun with the theme of “core values,” by painting an apple core rather than a full apple. (About half of the sculptures are full apples and the rest half-eaten apples.)
Around a munched-out center, Kelly painted “caring,” “honor,” “responsibility,” “respect” and “fun” around a multicolored design.
Jamie Chasse chose a more sinister theme for his apple, but you’d never know it from the spectacular colors. His “Poisoned Apple” is a perfect Red Delicious hue, slathered over with a Day-Glo green flow of — something — to create a spooky face.
But it’s got a nice message on it: Southington Apple Harvest Festival. The most recent festival, in September, was the 50th, which provided the occasion for this public art initiative.
‘Garden of Hope’
A bright, summery vision on a crisp autumn day, Mary Gonzalez’s “Garden of Hope” features a light green outdoor scene, of a white bench in the midst of a field of grass and flowers. Gonzalez was asked to design an apple in honor of a woman who had passed away. She told DeCroce she was thinking about the woman and the garden popped into her head.
‘We Love Dogs’
Look at that little face! No, not one, but three little faces! Barbara Labutis’ half-eaten core, red and white, is enhanced by the faces of three beautiful black Labrador retrievers.
The hounds were painted in honor of real dogs who are the well-known denizens of the location where the apple is placed.
‘Where Good Begins’
Many apples in the hunt stick with realistic apple colors. Not the one created by Stephanie Hongo and members of Art Studio of Connecticut.
Various shades of vivid blue are painted on a half-eaten core with the words “Where Good Begins.”
The motto honors civic activists who help make the region a better place. It’s one of the few apples placed outdoors, but it still takes some searching to spot it.
Audrey Kantrowitz wants to make people hungry, not by showing them an apple but by turning that apple into a latte.
She doesn’t stick with traditional apple colors either. Various shades of coffee-brown — some with no cream, some with a lot — go up and down her half-eaten core, with foam at the top and a caramel swirl around the stem.