Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Maynard Rocks

Maynard Rocks started as a pebble that turned into an avalanche. Peter Morgan, resident of Maynard and parent of two school-age daughters, had traveled to Tacoma, Washington, in 2017 on a business trip. There, out for a walk, he spied several, small painted rocks lodged in the gaps of a stone wall. He brought one home. April 2017, he and his wife Andrea Blondin Morgan, and their daughters, started Maynard Rocks, mirroring it after Tacoma Rocks. The genesis of all the “____ Rocks’ programs trace a history back to The Kindness Rocks Project, started in early 2015 by Megan Murphy on Cape Cod: “…created to spread inspiration and a moment of kindness for unsuspecting recipients through random inspirational rocks dropped along the way.”

A collection of Maynard Rocks at the Morgan house.
The Maynard Rocks concept is more image-driven than word driven, but can be either, or both. Participants are encouraged to place rocks in public places where they will be seen by vigilant passers-by. People are advised at Maynard Rocks Facebook to either leave found stones in place, move those to a new spot, or replace with one of their own, keeping the found one instead. Photos of finds can be added to the Facebook page. Contributors have ranged from young children taking a paint brush in hand for the first time, to experienced artists, to participants from Maynard’s Council on Aging. The Morgans host rock painting events, and some of Maynard’s businesses have held Maynard Rocks parties.

It's not complicated. The Morgans recommend either glacially- or ocean-rounded rocks smaller than fist-sized. Some people prefer flat rocks, or unusual shapes that can be incorporated into the painting. All rocks should be washed in soapy water, thoroughly rinsed, then dried. The paints of choice are acrylic. Quill and Press, on Route 27, Acton, has a vast supply of paints, also glue-on googly eyes and glitter. After painting, rocks are sealed with either matte- or glossy-finish clear acrylic sealer, available as a spray. Krylon and Mod Podge are two brands. Alternatively, spray-paint rocks one color, use oil-based paint pens (Artistro, Sharpie, Posca) to write words, then seal with clear acrylic spray. This works better for Kindness Rocks style, which is word-based rather than pictures.  

The Morgans recommend that the back side of rocks be lettered with “Maynard Rocks,” and perhaps the Facebook symbol – a lower-case letter “f” in white against a blue background. This promotes posting photos of found rocks at the Maynard Rocks Facebook site, and perhaps induces people to relocate their findings rather than becoming rock hoarders. There has been a sprinkling of photos that indicates rocks that traveled outside Maynard. Perhaps future photos will show handheld rocks with the Statute of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower in the background. The Assabet River Rail Trail has become a favorite rock placing and finding site, as it gets lots of traffic by people of all ages. Oft times, parents and grandparents are out with young children.

The Morgans continue to support the project by conducting rock-painting workshops, and by painting and placing hundreds of rocks each year. Recognition of the impact the Morgans and Maynard Rocks have had on making Maynard interesting was recognized by Maynard’s Cultural Council at the 2018 grant awards ceremony. And then, the effort was so much seen as part of Maynard’s creative fabric that for the 2019 event, the second annual “Maynard Rocks” award was given to Denise and John Fitzsimmons family for the way that their fifteen years of open-door, ‘spaghetti night’ dinners have introduced old-timers and Maynard newbies to each other, in the process providing a place to discuss how to make Maynard better. Additionally, in 2019, a sampling of rocks was on display as part of the annual “Only From Maynard” art show at ArtSpace. Because Maynard Rocks.

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