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Art, Environment Focus of N.J. Top Ten Beaches Rain Barrel Project

The New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, an affiliation of colleges, universities and other groups committed to advancing knowledge and stewardship of New Jersey’s marine and coastal environment, is ringing in the New Year with a call for artists to be part of a New Jersey Top Ten Beaches project that will use art to help promote environmental awareness while celebrating the Jersey Shore.

The consortium and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program are teaming up to use rain barrels, 55-gallon recycled food-grade containers placed at the downspout of a roof to collect rain water, for a partnership project. Rain barrels help reduce the amount of rain the flows into storm drain systems, which helps prevent flooding and pollution from entering New Jersey’s waters. Collected rainwater can be used for household tasks such as watering the garden. Rutgers has donated 10 fully outfitted barrels prepped as blank canvases, which will be painted with iconic coastal, beach, bay, ocean and boardwalk scenes and images commemorating the Jersey Shore.

Artists are now being invited to apply for a chance to paint one of the barrels and turn it into a functional work of art. Selected artists will receive a fully rigged and prepped rain barrel and a stipend for their participation.
“We’re really excited about this since a whole barrel full of benefits – art, tourism, environmental education and water conservation – are blended into one single project,” said Kim Kosko, the consortium’s director of communications and project coordinator for N.J. Top Ten Beaches.
The barrels will be showcased at the consortium’s 12th annual State of the Shore Media Event on May 22, when the sixth annual N.J. Top Ten Beaches list will also be announced. The barrels will roll out on tour around the state throughout the summer and be displayed at selected New Jersey beach communities and special events. The barrels will be auctioned or raffled off to the public after Labor Day.

Interested participants can contact Norma Wokas, the project’s art coordinator. Applications are also available at water.rutgers.edu and njtoptenbeaches.org. Artists will be chosen by representatives from the Monmouth County Arts Council, Rutgers Water Resources Program, NJSGC and Wokas. Applications are due Feb. 7. Finalists will be notified on Feb. 14. For more information, visit njseagrant.org. – K.A.E.