Roll Out The (Art) Barrels

Using brushes and paint. Christopher Maddox helped add a new item to a list that includes the Frisbee, the lollipop, and the hamburger.

That list—great inventions born in New Haven—now includes seven new hand-painted trash barrels.

Those trash barrels, made from recycled oil drums, were the subject of a Tuesday afternoon press conference on the first floor of City Hall.

New Haven high schools students like Maddox (pictured) recently finished painting the drums, which will be placed in city parks to collect trash.

The barrel-painting project was the result of a grant by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, given to Oil Drum Art, a Connecticut organization working to turn used barrels into works of art.

Jack Lardis (pictured), the artist who runs the organization, distributed seven blank sanded and primed barrels to New Haven schools, along with painting kits. The drums came with an assigned theme: “New Haven’s Firsts.”

The resulting drums highlight institutions and landmarks for which New Haven is known: pizza, Yale, theater, the lighthouse. They also show off some of the items New Haven claims to have invented, like the hamburger and the lollipop.

Co-op High’s Aiden Turlington, Brianna Walker, and Paige Kissinger (left to right in photo) were among a group of students who worked on one of two Louis Lunch-themed barrels, saluting the famed burger joint.

Turlington said he and his classmates photographed Louis Lunch, projected the photo on a wall to trace the image, then used carbon paper to transfer the picture onto the barrel, where they painstakingly painted it. The whole process took two or three months, said Walker.

Maddox and his classmates at Hyde School of Health Sciences and Sports Medicine, worked on a barrel that has a slightly different theme—New Haven violence. The barrel he worked on says “Stop The Violence” around the top and includes silhouetted images of gun-violence victims, marked with family-relation terms—father, cousin, brother.

“When we started this, there was a lot going on in the community,” Maddox said, referring to recent incidents of violence in New Haven.

Maddox said he knows a lot of people affected by that violence. “It hit home. That one was more personal.”

Maddox also worked on another barrel, showing iconic scenes and products from New Haven. “I did the pizza”

“It was a cool project,” Maddox said. “Outside the norm of regular artwork.”

Hyde art teacher Patrick Lawrence said students worked collaboratively to come up with the designs for both drums created at Hyde. He said the projects were a hit with students, and not just art students. People were skipping lunch to work on finishing the barrels, he said.

In comments at the press conference, Mayor Toni Harp called the barrels “a most creative way to address and age-old urban challenge.” She said the new drums will help keep parks free of litter.

Lardis, the artist behind the oil drum project, said he put a coat of varnish over the finished paintings, so that the barrels should last eight to 10 years.

The barrels are now on display in City Hall, ahead of their deployment to New Haven parks.

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posted by: Bill Saunders on May 28, 2014  1:38pm

Very Nicely Done.

posted by: Sarah.Miller on May 29, 2014  3:37am

Oil drums can also be used as rain barrels, all the more so if beautifully decorated. I would buy one!

posted by: Interesting thought on May 29, 2014  11:24am

I pass by Edgewood park often and it never fails, the trash that is discarded on the Edgewood Ave side of the park is reprehensible. And what’s sad is that there are at least SIX trash receptacles all along the edge of the park. The warm weather booze guzzling, subway sub scarfing weed smokers could use these brightly colored barrels to dispose of their rubbish. The current ones are clearly not obvious enough.