Local Artist Creates Treasure Hunt Mural for City’s 200th Anniversary

Local Artist Creates Treasure Hunt Mural for City’s 200th Anniversary

Words By Kevin Cramer

You may have seen the puzzling teasers around town—a cryptic message that says “JacksInJax.com.” From Downtown to 5 Points to Jax Beach, the phrase is popping up all over Duval County. Those of you who have been curious enough to visit the website learned it’s the home of First Coast’s First Treasure Hunt Mural.

The JacksinJax project is the brainchild of Murray Hill resident and muralist Jason Tetlak. Recently while in Iowa painting the facade of a large theatre, Tetlak, who received international acclaim when his 3D mural was recognized as the largest in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records, was struck with a random thought. “What if I combined a mural with an escape room?” Tetlak said. “Would that even be possible? You have a lot of time to think when you’re painting for 10 to 12 hours a day for five straight days, so by the time I got back home, I had it mostly worked out in my head.”

Having an idea is one thing. Executing it is another. Upon arriving back in Jacksonville, Tetlak set out to find business partners to assist in the adventure. His search eventually lead to Future of Cities, a real estate development firm with a holistic, place-based approach to regenerative development that jumped at the chance to incorporate public art into their plans. Other local companies like Wolf & Cub, 1748 Bakehouse and The Block Skate Supply also came on board, and securing these local partnerships essentially gave Tetlak a green light to go ahead.

“The concept is part Art Walk, part immersive puzzle and part treasure hunt,” said Tetlak. “Without some exciting rewards to encourage competition, the whole thing wouldn’t be as fun for me. And for anyone who chooses to play so I’m super thankful for the great local businesses that are supporting the project. With their help, I’ll be giving away more than $2,500 in prizes.”

Asked why he’d go to so much trouble to set up such a quest, Tetlak laughed. “Art is evolving as people desire more and more from their experiences – so I’m constantly searching for ways to make my art interactive. I’m always trying to get people to do more than simply look at art. I want them to experience art. And hopefully, if the concept succeeds here in Jacksonville, we’ll be able to take the model to other cities as well. But as far as I know, this one will be the very first to combine the elements we’re combining. To have it here in Jacksonville, especially to celebrate the city’s 200th anniversary is pretty special.”

Tetlak claims that even finding the mural (“somewhere in Duval County” was the only clue he’d give) will be part of the game.

“I don’t want to give away much more than that, but if all goes well the first person or group to finish the game will get a pretty unique prize,” he said. “And even if you’re not first, they’ll be other cool rewards along the way, so stay tuned.”

Tetlak hasn’t ruled out the possibility of offering extra clues to his followers so for more information check out his Instagram page, @jasontetlak.