Rock art seeing rise in popularity on local scene

Duane Hicks

Local “rock stars” are spreading a little more art into people’s everyday lives.
Several artists, known collectively as the “Rainy River Rockers,” have begun painting rocks with all sorts of designs and colours with the intent to hide them all over Fort Frances.
The idea ties into the “art abandonment” movement, whereby artists around the world are creating and sharing random acts of art–essentially, creating artwork and leaving them to be found by the public.
In this case, the artwork is painted rocks.
Once you find a rock, “you can keep it as a gift, re-gift it, or re-hide it,” explained “Rainy River Rockers” spokesperson Jean Richards, who was inspired by an extremely popular group in Winnipeg called “Winnipeg Rocks.”
“And anyone can join in,” she added, urging others to paint their own rocks and keep the trend going here.
In theory, it could lead to more people painting, hiding, and searching for rocks.
“It’s just a goodwill, fun thing,” remarked fellow “Rocker” Penny Faragher.
While some artists elsewhere sign their abandoned art or otherwise include a note with information about themselves, these ones each are marked with the same signature–“R.R.R.” (for Rainy River Rockers).
The rocks will be hidden in public places around town throughout the month of September.
Meanwhile, some other creative local residents already have started painting and hiding rocks on their own.
The Facebook group “Fort Frances Rocks,” which was started July 30 by Denise Lynn Rybuck, boasts more than 100 members–and is growing.
“I decided to start up the group ‘Fort Frances Rocks’ after visiting with a childhood friend in Winnipeg,” Rybuck told the Times.
“Her son had found a rock that was connected to ‘Winnipeg Rocks’ and I thought, ‘Why not start a group here in Fort Frances?'” she added.
“I thought that it would catch on because people in Fort Frances like to embrace new initiatives,” Rybuck reasoned.
“I am hoping that with your article that more people learn about the group and get involved.”
Rybuck said the group is “about creativity, community, and brightening someone’s day.”
“I just thought it was a neat way to bring people together,” she noted.
“This is not an expensive venture,” Rybuck stressed. “It allows for all ages to participate and the group showcases people’s talents.
“These aspects are what really appealed to me and why I was interested in starting the group here.”
Speaking more broadly about the “art abandonment” phenomenon, Rybuck feels it has such an appeal “because acts of kindness make people feel good and build a sense of community.”
“From my perspective, we live in a society that is so focused on immediate gratification and technology that it is nice to go back to a simpler time,” she remarked.
“Painting rocks, or parietal art, is very primitive and allows for messages to be conveyed, ideas and beauty to be shared, and connections to be made with others,” Rybuck explained.
“It is possible for people of any age, background, or ability to create these works of art.”
Rybuck feels the paintings on the rocks serve a different purpose, depending on who finds them and when in their life they do.
“This could be as simple as to serve as an object of beauty or a person may find one at a point in their life when they are struggling and need something positive,” she noted.
“As unique as the paintings on the rocks are, so are the people who find them and the meaning that they acquire from them,” she reasoned.
“It is a way to make us feel part of a something bigger as a community,” Rybuck added. “For these reasons, I do think the whole process and act have great appeal to many people.”
In the “Fort Frances Rocks” Facebook group, local residents have been sharing photos either of rocks they’ve painted or ones they’ve found.
The group provides also tips. For example, when it comes to placing or hiding rocks, “Fort Frances Rocks” advises people to hide rocks in public places and not private property.
Those who hide rocks also may want to provide hints about where they’ve hidden rocks–it’s up to them.
The group also answers frequently-asked questions, such as what kind of paint to use and where to get rocks.