Winkler Rocks spreading joy through artwork

Ashley Elias shows off some rocks she painted that will be hidden in Winkler. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

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You may have noticed painted rocks cropping up around the city while out on a walk.

These rocks are part of a simple way of spreading joy to those who find them, and now there’s an opportunity for anyone in the community to get involved.

Ashley Elias’ mom lives in Winnipeg, and when the Winnipeg Rocks campaign started up she decided to get onboard.

“My kids love painting rocks, and they started painting with her and hid in Winnipeg,” she said. “We decided to bring it out here.”

That was about two years ago, and now the Facebook group for Winkler Rocks has over 170 members.

“I’ve had anywhere between five and ten people joining every single day for the last three weeks,” Elias said. “It’s really picked up.”

Elias said one reason the project is so popular could be the community aspect. “You’re hiding stones, kids like to find things, they get excited when they find something fun,” she said. “It’s fun for kids to paint them and to hide them.”

Elias said parks are popular places to find rocks, including Bethel Heritage Park.

Designs can range from cartoon characters and movie logos to inspirational messages and food or plants.

The rock painting movement has been growing in communities around the province. Rocks from Portage la Prairie have found their way to Winkler, and Winkler rocks are slowly spreading outside of the city to places like Plum Coulee and beyond.

“Even in Winnipeg, I’ve seen on their Facebook page they’ve found Winkler rocks out there,” Elias said. “Steinbach as well. It’s been good.”

Now the community is invited to come paint rocks together on May 23 at Winkler Arts and Culture.

“I think it’s a really fun initiative,” WAC executive director Wendy Klassen said. “It gets every age involved. I’ve been seeing a lot of people posting lately about the rocks, and there’s some older people, there’s little kids that are doing it. It’s something that’s cheap to do, because you basically go pick stones off your driveway or wherever.”

Klassen wanted to take that feeling and bring a group together to paint rocks at the art gallery. “You feed off of each other’s ideas and creativity,” she said.

The event is timely, taking place during Pay it Forward May, when residents are encouraged to consider small acts of kindness.

“Everybody can paint stones together and then the next day they can go hide them,” Klassen said. “They’re going for a walk through the park and they find it. They can keep it or re-hide it or gift it or whatever.”

The art gallery will have rocks, paints and sealers ready, as well as some examples of painted rocks.
“I know it really has taken off in Winnipeg,” Klassen said. “It’s something that gets every age involved, it’s something that’s accessible to everyone, it brings the community together and it’s easy but it’s creative.”

To register online visit www.winklerarts.com/winkler-rocks or email admin@winklerarts.com and bring a toonie. Registration is $2.

If you find a rock in the community, visit the Winkler Rocks community page, post pictures and then either keep or re-hide it.

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