Art Underfoot

Updated: Sep 5, 2019

by Rae Richen

A vertical strip of pink and two strips of gray run down the side of a long run of horizontally laid rocks that cross the pedestrian street infront of the shops./Richen
Woody's foot gives scale to this run of plain, but delightful rock design./Richen

Rock art is hard work, but has staying power.


Advertise your shop with art you can walk on? Are you thinking sidewalk chalk art? Thinking paint your intersection of the street? Great ideas, but they have a drawback. You have to renew them every week or every year.


I'm thinking a little more permanence to your art underfoot. I'm thinking rock art.


Look under your feet for an art that is whimsical, yet good advertising. Rock art is hard work, but has staying power.



At a cornere, the rock pattern makes a mitred corner turn any quilter would be proud of.
A stripe of light pink rock delineates the change in texture. Here is a mitred corner turn a quilter would be proud of../Richen











The photos here are from the town of Freiburg, Germany. We are in the older part of town near the cathedral, where shop spaces are small and close together in buildings from previous centuries. The streets have been closed to auto traffic. The sidewalks are partly brick. The old curbs are concrete or sometimes a conglomerate rock. Next to these materials are patterns made of rock from the River Dreisam and other nearby rivers.


The oblong ovals of rock are from three to four inches long and mostly about two to two and a half inches wide.


As you can see, the sidewalk rock is many-colored: rose, pink, tan, light and dark gray.


The creation of the patterns here means that somewhere along the rock-collecting work path, the sizes and the colors have been sorted. That stripe of pink between two bands of gray represent an eye and a purpose.


The designs represent many knee and back hours with a cartoon and artistic intention. some of the patterns you'll see below represent a clever use of ancient pattern, others represent the type of shop they advertise.


Tan hearts and chocolate tears surround a four leaf clover inside of a circle of red and a circle of black rocks.
A heraldic Candy and Chocolate store design of carefully chosen rock colors.



Red cobblestones with a river-rock drain for rain wanter. The drain turns a corner in orderly fashion with small rocks on the inner curve corner and larger ones at the outer edge../Richen
Between cobblestones, this is a water drain of river rock. The cloud-gray is running water on a rainy day. Note the use of white rock in both photos to warn pedestrians of a change of elevation. White stripes also warn of texture change. The drain's corner is turned in orderly fashion. Small rocks facilitate the inside of each curve./Richen


Red bricks line the bottom of the window. The river rock design is a circle of tan inside of gray. The nearby vent from the basement has a little plant design in the grill./Richen
Another heraldic type of design. This photo also shows the careful kickplate finish on the building and the nod to nature in the grill before the basement vent or light window./Richen


In front of the florist shop, a foursided design of tulips on a cross. The tulips are light pink rocks on a diagonal background of small dark gray rocks in a rectangle./Richen
The florist advertises tulips with a diagonal background of dark gray and very small rocks./Richen



Since the street and the building fronts are sometimes curved, each design is surrounded by stripes of white rock in gray rock. The resulting rectangles are at different angles, so the pedestrians notice the change of angle as they walk along.?Richen
The surrounding stipes allow the pedestrian and the designer to delineate the changes in building facade as the street curves through the old part of town./Richen



Among the concentric curves of cobblestone, a soccer or futbal sits before the sporting goods stores./Richen
A sporting goods store resides here. Inside, I bought socks that made the next many days of walking an easier trek. Note how the design is worked into the curves of cobblestone./Richen


A rush of river rock has a vortex of water going down the storm drain. All in carefully laid out diagonal lines/Richen
Feel the rush of water in this pattern. Care has been taken, even in the design leading to the storm drain./Richen

When you are in any new city, notice the art in many places -- even underfoot. Chances are, even your home town has some forms of art you have forgotten to enjoy.