Brooklyn artist Steve Wasterval loves New York.
He loves it so much that he paints what he calls "mini masterpieces" as an ode to his neighborhood.
"They're tiny paintings of Greenpoint, which is where I live."
But unlike his other paintings which go for $2000 to $3,000, these are free.
But there's a catch. You have to find them where he hides them. Like say, on a basketball backboard.
"I started doing these little 2 x 1.5 inch canvas paintings of my favorite spots in the neighborhood and then hiding them and then emailing my email list and posting on Instagram the picture of the painting in front of the spot where it was hidden, and then some clues, and then people go out and find them."
The mini paintings feature landmarks or local cafes and parks.
Wasterval started the weekend treasure hunt about three years ago but stopped during lockdowns.
"Then it got warmer and everyone wanted to go outside a lot and they were sick of being inside, I decided to do one again and bring it back just as a test, and people went crazy for it. And I had three times as many people looking for it than before. And it's like the pause made everybody appreciate it more."
The 40-year-old artist said the idea was born out of a desire to share his art with more people.
"I wanted to just put them out on walls and brick walls and leave them on buildings outside for people to see, but then I realized people would take them, probably really quickly."
Then came the lightbulb moment.
"I thought, 'Oh, I could really make lots of these and I could hide them really well.' And then it could be more of a treasure hunt type of thing."
As for why he chose to paint his neighborhood, Wasterval says it's for the same reason most people love New York.
"Everyone loves their neighborhood. And they love their corner and they love their deli and their subway stop and all the things in their neighborhood that make it their neighborhood, their coffee shop. And so in trying to paint New York as my only subject, it just became obvious that it's like, 'Oh, I gotta paint my borough, I gotta paint my street, I gotta paint my block.'"