Artist’s work is made to brighten any rainy day

Next time it rains, don’t curse the sky.

Look at your feet. You might be surprised.

Almost like magic, messages start appearing on wet sidewalks in places around Seattle and even in Lynnwood. Inspirations such as “Carpe diem” and “Don’t quit your daydream.”

Then, shazam, the words vanish as the pavement dries.

What’s up with that?

It’s rain-activated art created by former Marysville resident Peregrine Church (yep, that’s his real name).

It all started when Church, 22, saw a YouTube video about a superhydrophobic coating product that repels water. The video, which got about 14 million views, shows chocolate syrup, cola, gravy and mustard sloshed on white clothing without leaving a mark.

Church thought of how it could be used on pavement to create art in the rain. The water could contrast an image that would pop out on dreary days.

“I like creative applications of materials and products especially in ways they weren’t intended for,” Church said. “It’s just something I think about a lot. I like making things and making people happy.”

Not that he understands the science behind superhydrophobic. “It kind of melts my brain how it works,” he said.

He tested several brands and chose the non-toxic, environmentally safe and biodegradable product Always Dry made by Nanex Company in Belgium.

He founded Rain Works to make street art. His toolkit: stencils, cardboard for spray control, tape measures, weights, funnel, a camera to document it, water to test it. And friends to assist.

In the last year, Church has created more than 25 public art designs in Western Washington. (For a map, go to http://rain.works.)

There’s “Proud to be rainy” in Capitol Hill. Lily pad and frogs in Ballard. “Today’s weather: Rain” in Fremont. “Worry is a misuse of the imagination” in downtown Seattle. At Seattle Center, “Proud to be rainy.” Next time it rains, look for Calvin and Hobbes in South Lake Union.

One fellow hired him to pop the question, with the water revealing a marriage proposal. She said “Yes.”

A video of Church throwing a bucket of water on a hopscotch game design went viral. It got about 3.6 million views. See it here:

That led to media exposure nationwide.

Tod Steward, public relations director for Quail Park, a retirement community in Lynnwood, saw a segment on TV about Church’s art and immediately thought of his senior residents.

Church came up with “Welcome Home” and “Live Laugh Love” and a uplifting saying around the courtyard fountain.

“When it begins to rain, it’s a perfect match,” Steward said. “They really enjoy this. It leaves them with a good feeling.”

Some residents can see the writing from their rooms.

“When it’s kind of rainy, that’s the first thing I do is look out there,” said resident Fran Hart.

The message around the fountain reads: “A kind heart is a foundation of happiness, making everything around it blossom into smiles.”

“I like the saying,” Hart said. “I want to memorize it.”

The sidewalk art isn’t permanent. It lasts four months to a year, depending on the surface and foot traffic.

Church likes the magical element of rain art. “Before this I was mainly doing magic and some casino-themed events,” he said. “It’s my day job now.”

This week, he’s taking his art to the east coast. A Connecticut NBC TV station commissioned him to do “a bunch of things to make the employees there smile during the day,” he said.

Church is a go-out-in-the-world-and-try-things guy.

“I entered college two years early,” he said. “I left after three years because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do. I learn best by making things and trying things. This is one of the things that came out of that.”

Church moved from Alaska to Marysville when he was 7. He attended Pinewood Elementary School for several years before moving to Shoreline. He has relatives in Lake Stevens.

Would he be as creative if his name would have been John or Tom?

He laughed at that question.

“What’s hilarious is my dad is John Church the Third. He was the third John in a row and he said, ‘It ends here. I’m naming my son something different.’?”

It’s as songwriter/humorist Roger Miller put it: “Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”

Send What’s Up With That? suggestions to Andrea Brown at 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown. Read more What’s Up With That? at www.heraldnet.com/whatsup.

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