October 22, 2021

Art project rocks

Painted stones spark creativity, search

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Cinch Art Space co-owner Tammie Whitson shows one of the Cortland Rock Project painted rocks, which reads, “Wonder” Wednesday at the Cortland Corset Building. Painted rocks are part of a public art project.

As you’re walking about Cortland County keep an eye out for rocks. Not just any rocks — these rocks will be decorated with pictures, colorful scenes, whimsical characters or encouraging words.

They are lying in planters, nestled near trees or buildings, waiting for you.

They are all part of the Cortland Rock Project, launched by Cinch Art Space owners Tammie Whitson and Tina Minervini. The business, located in the Cortland Corset Building, officially launched the project on First Friday, June 2, when about 30 people showed up to paint rocks that they later would distribute around the community.

On the back of each rock is written cinchartspace.com, so people who find the rock know to visit the site and learn more about the decorative rock they just found.

The idea of the project, Whitson said, is to spark creativity.

“The focus here (at Cinch) is on art and public art,” she said. “And to inspire that sense of wonder and awe when you find something like this.”
So when one of the store’s contributing artists, Jodie Wainwright, raised the idea of the rock project, Whitson said she was excited because it fit perfectly.

“It is stated in our mission one of the things we want to do is inspire creativity, and put art into the hands of people,” Whitson said.
Whitson does not know how many rocks may be lying about in the community by now. The idea is to go out and paint your own rocks and place it somewhere. No need to check in.

Co-owner Minervini said she has painted some of her own and suggested where people may find them.

“I was thinking the library, maybe near some parks, when Wickwire is open, around there, Lime Hollow (Nature Center), places people like to go this time of year,” she said.

The rocks will not be hidden in places where they could cause problems, for instance on lawns to be mowed or in a road, but in public places where people could stumble upon them, she said.

“And have kind of a pleasant surprise, ‘Wait I think I saw an actual thing on that rock,’ Minervini said.

Whitson hopes putting art out in the community inspires people to ignite that spark of creativity and paint their own rocks, broadening the scope of the project.

“And it’s oddly addictive,” Whitson said. “You start finding rocks and say, ‘That one needs to be a heart or a bear,’. We’re having a lot of fun with it so far and we are not even a week in.”

If you find a rock or leave one, snap a selfie and post it on the Cinch Facebook page so the person who finds it or has left it can see how the rock has come full circle, Whitson said. “It’s delightful to find something like this and even more delightful to connect to a project that’s bigger.”