While we focus on painters a lot on this blog, this is only one form of public art. There are an incredible number of mediums out there that all contribute to the art we see on an everyday basis, from sculpture to topiary (hedge trimming art) to, in the case of this week’s featured artist, balancing rocks.
Canadians and North Americans are probably familiar with the , the stacked rock sculptures made by the Inuit. These human-like figures have captured the imaginations and attention of people around the world. These beautiful creations come in many different sizes, but they have also inspired people to create smaller versions at places around the world. In fact, small yet intricate rocks piles are a common sight in many national parks and areas in Canada and North America, but one artist has taken this notion to a completely different level.
Michael Grab, the owner and purveyor of Gravity Glue, is not a painter but a type of sculptor, one who creates intricate rock piles in places around the world. The practice started out as a simple hobby and fascination when he was in Boulder, Colorado in 2012. In Grab’s own words, he was drawn to rock piles because of an “awe at the stillness, let alone possibility, of such precarious formations, amidst sometimes very turbulent conditions. For me this reflects our own potential to maintain a still-point amidst the variety of challenges we each face throughout our lives.”
Grab practices rock piling every day as a meditative and artistic practice and has gone on to create some truly wondrous and seemingly impossible creations. While many of them operate to challenge the laws of gravity, precariously positioning larger, pointed rocks onto smaller ones, others are more ambitious. One piece in his portfolio is an entire bridge of rocks, complete with arches, that was made entirely from rocks in the area.
Since garnering a name for himself with rock piling, Grab has expanded his scope to include film, photography, and even DJ mixes and sets, but there is something serene and amazing in the work of his rock piles.
What Grab’s art shows is that street art doesn’t require paint or even a street, it only needs a will and, at some point, an audience, even if that is an audience of one. Rock piles like Grab’s are artistic and meditative endeavours that draw people in at their simple mastery, but can also be left for others to discover. So the next time you’re in a national park, keep an eye out for rock piles, or make one yourself. It’s a wonderful exercise and an interesting way that people have been leaving pieces of art for others for centuries.