Early Saturday afternoon, I went to Vital 5 Productions and found Greg Lundgren relaxing in his empty gallery, drinking a beer out of a keg-party red cup and eating Milano cookies. But we were not there to drink and watch the panorama of the lovely day unfold through the gallery's large windows; we were there to administer the third Arbitrary Art Grant.

The $500 grant, courtesy of Lundgren's Artists for a Work Free America, would be given to the author of a fake poster for a missing item; to be specific, the author of the first poster that Lundgren encountered after 2:02 p.m. in the large sort-of square area described by Yesler, Denny, Boren, and First Avenue. Things were heating up in a quiet sort of way in the gallery's immediate vicinity; the area across the street, at the triangle formed by Ninth Avenue and Westlake, was like a postmodern lost-and-found, with posters advertising the loss of two buildings last seen 9/11, a lycanthropic revolutionary, a bonsai kitten (his not-yet-hardened bone structure sealed inside a rectangular jar), and Lundgren's own sister. Nearby, a modest monkey beseeched passersby to look for his underwear ("Has anyone seen my tightys [sic] that are white?").

But anyone who thought that Lundgren would pick the first poster outside his own domain had misunderstood the nature of the truly arbitrary. That was the gamble--you could put up 50 posters, or you could put up one, and your chances were roughly equal in the lovely randomness of grant-granting. At 2:00 p.m. we got in Lundgren's car and drove downtown, turning capriciously onto Union Street and then parking when we found an available space. A half-block away, at the corner of Third and Union, we found our first candidate, a "Wanted: Dead or Alive" poster posted on a streetlight; Lundgren called the poster's phone number and got Consolidated Works' answering machine. Poor Matthew Richter came into work on Monday morning to a message telling him he could have won $500 if only he'd answered the phone.

The lucky winner was just the other side of the streetlight: It was bonsai kitten, and lucky author Bernd Paradies (co-founder of Party Volcano, and man-with-cell-phone-about-town) met Lundgren back at the gallery to receive his lucky money and receive congratulations all around.

Meanwhile, the fake posters are still out there, doing their surreal business of making people stop and wonder. And then move on in search of the day.


Support The Stranger