Kutztown Thriving auctions off rain barrels painted by local artists

Nathan Hurst, illustrator and Kutztown University Alumnus, poses with his hand-painted and signed rain barrel.
Nathan Hurst, illustrator and Kutztown University Alumnus, poses with his hand-painted and signed rain barrel. Submitted photo
Joann Lapic of Paisley & Co. poses with her hand-painted barrel.
Joann Lapic of Paisley & Co. poses with her hand-painted barrel. Submitted photo

Five local artists designed and hand-painted rain barrels to be auctioned off from June 29 through July 29 as part of Kutztown Thriving’s newest initiative in downtown Kutztown.

Kutztown Thriving, a sub-committee of the Kutztown Community Partnership, was established last year with the goal of the betterment of the community through various health-based initiatives. The rain barrel project will follow work done so far to establish four pollinator gardens around the borough: at the welcome sign on Greenwich Street, at the German Heritage Center, at North Park, and by the Borough Hall.

The rain barrels, 55-gallon, above-ground tanks that collect rainwater from gutter drains for gardening and cleaning, will be displayed in local businesses throughout the month. Patrons of the shops can then bid on the rain barrels. The winning bidders will be announced at the Kutztown Kruizz on July 29. All proceeds will go to Kutztown Community Partnership and Kutztown Thriving projects.

“Our goal for this art initiative is to provide an opportunity for local artists to create a piece of artwork that benefits the environment through water conservation,” said Jackie Downing, Kutztown Thriving’s art initiatives lead. “In addition, we want local businesses to benefit from the foot traffic the bidders of the silent auction will bring.”

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Participating artists are Joanne Lapic of Paisley and Company; Nathan Hurst, a local illustrator and Kutztown University alumnus; Alyssa Damiani of Reviving Design; Kathleen Suchecki Walck of Walnut and Laurel Handmade and Courtney Hampton, a Kutztown Area High School student.

“It was difficult to choose the winners for this year. We had some great submissions,” said Joan Reilly, the project lead.

According to KCP Office Manager Maggie Stange, artists were asked to submit a sketch of their proposed rain barrel art. The judges then chose an artist based on sketches, descriptions and marketability of the design to the general public.

This is Kutztown Thriving’s first hand painted rain barrel art contest and auction and businesses in town are coming together to support the project. The barrels will be put on display with local merchants on a rotating schedule. The Kutztown Thriving tab on the KCP website and Facebook page will have updates to let people know where all the barrels are located.

The businesses participating are Firefly Book Store, Young Ones Records, Meadow View Farm, CJ Hummel’s Restaurant, Kospia Farms in Alburtis, Hive Farm to Take-Out Restaurant, Blair Vineyards, Wanamaker’s General Store, Tommy Boy’s Pizza, the Main Street Inn, the Rodale Institute, Second Nature Health Food Store, and Saucony Creek Brewing + Gastropub.

The auction process will conclude at the Kutztown Kruizz main stage and presentations will be made on July 29. The Kutztown Kruizz this year will include classic cars, vintage motorcycles and live music.