Stone-Cold? Not When It’s Frankie Rice’s Work!
Stonework can be cold, indifferent… but not when it’s about curves and pathways, intricate designs that swirl and move and dance; then it’s anything but cold. And that’s the magic that artist Frankie Rice brings to his creations.
“I came out of the construction world,” Rice says, “and when I first started, it was all about getting as close as I could to making the stone into art.”
Arriving in Provincetown, he met Ronny Hazel and immediately latched onto Hazel’s vision. Rice offered to mix cement for Hazel for free “as a kind of apprenticeship,” says Rice. He went on to design and build the exceptional stone walls and arches you can see when you check out Hazel’s house (it’s the one across from the library on Center street—unmistakable).
Rice was in New York City for a few years, and when he returned to Ptown, “Ronny gave me the opportunity to do the alley next to the new Shop Therapy site.” John Waters became Rice’s “major mentor. He brought me around to all the different galleries.”
Rice says that he’s attracted to shapes. “They can be frightening… or move you through to something beautiful,” he says. “An arch is a combination of strength and pressure. I’ve made arches out of a lot of other things besides stone… driftwood, human hair, pill bottles… but I always come back to stone.”
Rice’s fascination with arches leads him to see and appreciate them everywhere. “In gardens, in cathedrals, it’s all there,” he says. “And it’s such a romantic form. You’re taking a shape and creating a language inside it—or uncovering the language that’s already there within. You can tell a whole story through a shape, and then let it move on to something else, morph out of what it was.”
Rice always wanted to be a working artist, and these days he’s found his dream being realized. “I haven’t had to do a patio in a long time,” he confesses. “But lately I’m feeling like the stonework is just as artistic as anything else.” He’s been commissioned to do a piece for Land’s End Inn. “So I’m saying to myself, Okay, Frankie, just how good are you? It’s such a historic, amazing place. But I’m confident I can make something gorgeous. And this is such a chance to make something that will last forever, that will still be here long after I’m gone.” He smiles. “I love a moment like that,” he says.
It’s not his only moment in town. “The piece I made for Shop Therapy?” he says. “That makes hundreds of people happy when they’re seeing it, it fits right into their summer day, their joy. It takes on a whole life of its own. That feels good, more than any other art I’ve produced—I look at it and at them and I think, this is my art.”
And not just beautiful, but “fun,” he says. “It all really is fun. That’s what happens when you’re passionate about something.”
You can check out Frankie’s arches and other stonework shapes online: he’s Rock Garden on Facebook and frankierice7 on Instagram. “I want the work to speak for itself,” he says. “I don’t know how to talk about it, I just do it. We’re visual guys; that’s what we do.”
And he does it… with a sprinkling of magic that is anything but cold.