The stone sculptures that emerge each summer out of the shallow waters of Remic Rapids in the Ottawa River were my introduction to the power of random acts of art in public places. Seeming to defy gravity, the rock figures embody the magic that unexpected works of art can bring to places, reminding us to pay attention to our surroundings.
These particular acts of art are now impermanent fixtures along the Ottawa River Parkway. For me, they are as much a sign of summertime in the capital as the ripening of blackberries in my backyard and the whine of cicadas in the afternoon heat. On most weekends the artist, John Félice Ceprano, is there, attending to his figures, good naturedly re-stacking them when some careless tourist ignores the warning signs and sends them tumbling back into a pile of rocks.
The NCC has even installed an official plaque on site. According to the plaque, John Félice Ceprano has been experimenting with ephemeral stone sculptures since 1986. I came across his work sometime in the mid 1990s. That summer, my friends and I were so moved by the visual and physical balance of the figures and by their transient nature that we were inspired to hold a midsummer picnic in their presence, eating strawberries and chocolate on the rocks as the sun went down on the longest day of the year.
For more information about the artist, John Félice Ceprano, and for some gorgeous photos of the sculptures over the years, check out his web-page: www.jfceprano.com