Rochester artist hopes his paintings find homes, even if he doesn't have one

Rob Hill has been living outside and getting by on money he earns from his art.

Rob Hill 01.JPG
Rob Hill lays out paintings he made along a berm on the south bank of the Zumbro River in downtown Rochester Thursday, June 2, 2022.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Rob Hill says he hopes to sell a few paintings at the first Thursdays Downtown June 16.

However, Hill won’t have a vendor’s booth. Hill doesn’t even have a permanent home currently.

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Hill has been painting on found, purchased and reclaimed canvases and taking them to public spots.

“These aren’t my best paintings,” Hill said, spreading out about a dozen works on a berm along the bike trail on the south bank of the Zumbro River in downtown Rochester. “Most of my best work is out there.”

Over the past two years, Hill has created about 1,500 pieces of art, he said.


Occasionally, you can find where he is and his work on Facebook. However, that’s not his favorite method for moving his paintings.

“I haven’t had much luck online,” he said.

He takes some responsibility for that.

“I’ve never been able to keep my phone on for more than a couple of months at a time,” he added.

Later in the day, he carried some paintings to Peace Plaza. He carries a plastic tote on wheels to move the canvases.

“I try to keep it bright with lots of colors,” he said of his work. “Some people do like grim reapers and skulls, so I do that once in a while.”

Hill said he spent much of the last winter living outside. Hill said he spent most of three of the last five winters with a permanent home.

“It’s a struggle,” he said.


Despite resources available to him, Hill prefers to stay with friends or camp outdoors. Hill said he went to The Landing, a day center for people struggling with homelessness, to get lunch. Staff there asked him to fill out paperwork., he said.

Landing co-founder Dan Fifield said he isn’t familiar specifically with Hill or his barriers to services, but said asking people who use The Landing’s services to fill out documents is a standard request. It helps them keep records of who has sought and received services, not only for the Landing Staff’s benefit but also to document the use of services for funding, he said.

Hill said he’s more interested in creating art than finding services.

“I think everyone has something to offer the world,” he said. “This is what I’m doing.”

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or
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