The rocks in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley have gotten more colorful in the past few weeks.It’s not unusual weather patterns that have brought the change, but rather paint brushes and pen tips from local artists of all ages and experience levels. Their creative work is applied to a rock, sealed and then hidden in public places for later discovery. Finders are asked to rehide the rocks — and in the process, they might be inspired to create and add their own.
“LC Valley Rocks,” as it’s called, is an art abandonment project that has gained dozens of new participants daily since it kicked off Oct. 7 in conjunction with Art Walk in downtown Lewiston.
The local movement was imported from Whidbey Island, where sisters Kerry Sinner and Tracey Sinner visited and found a “Whidbey Rock.” They brought the decorated rock home and proposed doing a local version to Myndie VanHorn, local artist and owner of The Fourth Wall art studio and gallery in Lewiston.
“I’d been looking for an art abandonment project, but I wanted it to be something that wasn’t just relying on artists,” VanHorn said.
This idea interested her, she said, because it would engage others in the process and could run itself once it got started. After a few small rock painting sessions, she asked some local teens to hide 75 rocks in downtown Lewiston the night before Art Walk — and LC Valley Rocks was born.
It’s a simple concept. Anyone is invited to gather and decorate rocks using whatever medium they like. Paint is most common, VanHorn said, but pencil and Sharpie markers work well too. A couple coats of clear sealant like clear spray paint or Mod Podge sealant spray helps protect the design from weather and wear. Putting basic instructions on the back of the rock encourages finders to post a photo to the LC Valley Rocks Facebook page and rehide it so that others can enjoy finding them. A small number of rocks state that they can be kept or re-hidden.
The Facebook page functions as a hub for the project. Group members post pictures of rocks they find and offer clues about rocks they have hidden — by parks, walking paths, parking lots, schools and even in indoor public spaces. There are no rules about where the rocks can be hidden, though VanHorn hopes participants will use common sense and respect when hiding rocks.
Kids are painting boxes of rocks, VanHorn said, and parents and teachers are helping them seal and hide them. But the painting, hiding and finding is not just for kids: adults — some with artistic experience and some without — are getting in on the fun as well.
“At this point, I think there are thousands and thousands of rocks out there,” VanHorn said.
Not all the rocks are necessarily staying in the valley, VanHorn said. Like the Whidbey Rock that brought the idea to the valley, travelers are finding rocks and rehiding them in new locations to spread the fun.
Getting people to create art on rocks is a big thing, but what gets VanHorn most excited is seeing parents and kids spending time together creating rocks and looking for rocks outside. And that’s the whole point of the project.
“This is meant to have fun,” VanHorn said.