There are all types of artists—welders, painters, crafts people, tapestryists, photogs, and a million others who use light, sound and smell to create image. But one type I’ve yet to come across until now are the “rock balancers.” The phrase itself elicits both a dismissing yawn and an intriguing curiosity—how can balancing rocks be art? And can’t just anyone balance a bunch of rocks? Maybe. But once you see these “nature sculptures,” which are usually made in the midst of rural surroundings and left there for passersby (and the occasional bear) to enjoy, you’ll probably become as smitten as I now am.
Balancing rocks isn’t easy—I’ve never personally tried it, of course, but from the looks of the photos, well, it just isn’t easy! Not only actually getting these randomly cut and smoothed elements to balance, mind you, but deciding just what rocks to use, how many, and seeing if you can get the final image to mean anything other than “I just made a pile of stones.” Fortunately, rock balancers have the human brain on their side—our wiring mandates that we find meaning and form in everything, it’s just the way we are. And so these artists (Andy Goldsworthy, among them), who use their own sense of form to create what often look like totally improbable tiltings and teeterings, have found a way to engage our sense of rhythm and shape, our profundity of desire to see something that was unapparent before.
Though coming upon these sculptures is usually by happenstance, artist Lila Higgins has brought a dozen of her smaller creations to the Division 9 Gallery—as well as over twenty photographs of larger works—so you don’t actually have to search the high and low lands for them. In fact, at this exhibit, you can even sign up to go out with Lila and fellow balancing enthusiasts and see first hand how this stoner chick puts it all together. And do we dare say it? Yes, we must—ROCK ON with your artistic selves and check it out! (Stacy Davies)
Written in Stone at Division 9 Gallery South, 3850 Lemon St., Riverside, (951) 682-5990; www.division9gallery.com. Thru August 31. Free.