Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Chance Discovery: River Sculptures by artist John Felice Ceprano

My dear husband hates being lost. Its like someone has pulled the carpet out from beneath his feet. Me, I regard an uncharted course as a map for adventure. Who knows what you will come across when you are lost?

During our summer vacation visit to Ottawa, we had become hopelessly lost. I was driving and Harold was sitting me beside me in the passenger seat, stressing, alternating between looking for street signs and frantically flipping map pages. We had seriously no idea where we were.

I was happy enough to keep going until we found a major artery that could be identified, but my trusty navigator was at wits end. "Pull over, pull over here.", he insisted,"I need to figure out where we are."

Reluctantly conceding, I pulled off onto a side road curving toward the Ottawa river. The road lead to a parquet, where I stopped to let Harold finish his map quest.

Refusing to get swept up in solving the mystery of our location, I looked around to see just where the car had landed us. The Ottawa River was as grey and forlorn looking as the overcast sky.

Then, I noticed a group of odd rock formations at the water's edge."Look, what's that? I'm going to check it out", I said opening the car door.

I strode across the slope of wet grass to the river bank. This is what I found at the water's edge. 

All along the shore, tiny pebbles had been used to balance larger river rocks to create these amazing natural sculptures.  

Even more lucky about this misadventure was a chance encounter with the artist, who was busily making adjustments to a few of the rock sculptures in preparation for an outdoor dance performance that was to take place at the water's edge later that same evening. 

We struck up a conversation and chatted for sometime about his work and the challenges of making a living as a contemporary artist in Canada.

John Felice Ceprano at work

The sculptures are all made by hand, each rock carefully balanced and shimmed. They range in size and can be as large as 10 feet high and 150 feet in diameter. The art project begins in summer and continues into late fall. Each winter the sculptures are dismantled naturally by the rising river and the ice floes. Thus the artwork is only temporal.

I thought they were great fun. And to think I never would have seen them, if we hadn't gotten lost!


  1. This is fascinating, I love it! So glad you got lost so you could share this with us.


  2. Love! Those are a wonderful, serendipitous find. Interesting that they are only temporary, makes it all the more special you found them...

  3. One never knows what they'll stumble upon during their travels. Roadtrips Rock! Breathtaking art form.

  4. I'm not particularly keen on being completely lost but wandering off the beaten track certainly is fun. So glad you found this and shared it.

  5. I bet that made your day! I think they are quite magical. Lucky you to meet the artist as well.

    "The journey is as important as the destination" :)

  6. Sometimes it's good to be lost because you never know what you'll find! Kellie xx

  7. These are AMAZING, and seem to defy gravity! Great pictures.

  8. Dear Jennifer, What a happy surprise. The sculptures are wonderful and I love the fact that they will be continually shaped and eventually eroded with the tides as the winter advances. And, joy of joys to have met the artist himself. That is always such an illuminating experience and will, I am sure, have given you further insight into his work.

  9. I love this happy scene! so neat that you found it.

  10. Hi Jennifer, thanks for the link, i love his work. I have also shared this link on my facebook page.


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