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BEARING FRUIT

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Art - and beauty - can be found in the most unexpected places, but Fort Greene artist-curator Ryan Watkins-Hughes wants you to go and really look for it.

Hint: he’s leaving it on store shelves along Williamsburg’s Grand Street.

"It’s a funny riff on Warhol’s soup cans," Watkins-Hughes told GO Brooklyn. "He elevated a Campbell’s soup can to high art, and I’m taking high art and putting it back in the grocery store."

Watkins-Hughes has collected artworks from 40 artists, placed them on cans of food and distributed them amidst a dozen shops for his "Shopdropping" show.

In C-Town, shoppers might stumble across the works of (pictured, left to right) New York’s Kelly Mola, Kentucky’s Shannon McRoberts, California’s Michael Rippens, Watkins-Hughes and Maine’s Kris Hall.

The best place to begin the art hunt is Maiden, Brooklyn, where many of the eight-ounce cans are on display, and a map to the drop sites can be picked up.

For the most part, says Watkins-Hughes, the store owners and employees are unaware that their business is being used as gallery space, although for this collaboration with Maiden, Watkins-Hughes did ask permission from some proprietors to ensure there would still be cans for visitors to admire throughout April.

"A majority of [the store owners] don’t know that they are there, and that’s the intended habitat," said the 27-year-old artist. "I want to be leaving them unbeknownst to the shop owners and employees." He defines his "Shopdropping" project as "a form of culture jamming; reverse shoplift."

He also likens his ongoing dabbling in guerilla street art as a "prank."

"It’s funny and engaging, and there’s something a little dangerous about it," said Watkins-Hughes. "I’ve gotten caught a couple of times and confronted by different store owners, and it’s fun to try to talk your way out of why you’re leaving a product behind.

"They have no clue what to think. Sometimes they don’t even notice until I take pictures of them. I’ve even been accused of corporate espionage! Like some other company wants to know how Shop Smart stocks their peaches."

"Shopdropping" is on display through April 30 at Maiden, Brooklyn (252 Grand St. between Driggs Avenue and Roebling Street in Williamsburg) and other venues. For gallery hours and more information, call (718) 384-1967 or visit www.maidenbrooklyn.com.

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