In the news – Rain barrel exhibit opens at Cleveland museum to raise awareness about clean water

CLEVELAND: Back in 2011, local artist and Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Linda Zolten Wood received a free rain barrel from the Mayor’s Youth Opportunities Unlimited program to store rainwater for use.

She soon became disappointed, however, when patches of algae started popping through and it became an eyesore.

So she used her artistic skills to sand, prime and paint the barrel, finishing it off with multiple coats of an outdoor acrylic boat sealant. Neighbors, who saw the transformation, asked for her help in painting their own rain barrels.

read the full article here at the Akron Beacon Journal

Painted Rain Barrel Earth Day Kickoff @GLScienceCtr Featured in Cool Cleveland

Painted Rain Barrel Earth Day Kickoff @GLScienceCtr

Sun 4/6 @ 12-4PM

The Collinwood Painted Rain Barrel Project’s year-long display of barrels painted by local artists moves to its April location, the Great Lakes Science Center, with a special event this week.

To kick off Earth Day month
, the project’s founder, artist Linda Zolten Wood, will be at the GLSC all afternoon showing visitors how to conserve water while making a plain old rain barrel pretty enough to adorn the front of your house. She’ll help them to create their own rain barrel designs and to paint a mini-barrel. Dress in old clothes if you want to be part of that! The project’s community partners — City of Cleveland Water Pollution Control and the Cleveland Division of Water — will also offer crafts for kids as well.g display of barrels painted by local artists moves to its April location, the Great Lakes Science Center, with a special event this week.

Activities are free with regular admission.

The twelve barrels will be on display at the Great Lakes Science Center through the end of April. 

Article featured in CoolCleveland 





Musuem of Natural History Museum Rain Barrels Featured in Cool Cleveland

Saturday 3/1 @ noon-5PM

You’d know instantly that Linda Zolten Wood’s North Collinwood home was the residence of an artist. She’s painted everything in sight in bright colors and lively designs.

So when she got a free rain barrel through a city of Cleveland program and decided that the ugly white object with the algae bloom inside showing through wouldn’t look good in front of her house, her solution a obvious: she painted it.

“They gave us everything to install it but the only suitable place was in front of the house,” she says. “That’s the only accessible downspout. It looked heinous.”

It’s now decorated with lily pads and a school of goldfish.

In the three years since, that act of beautification has blossomed into the Collinwood Painted Rain Barrel Project. As director, Wood has shown other people how to create decorated rain barrels they’re proud to have in their front yards.

“I’m looking at my neighbors and I know they all have rain barrels, and they haven’t hooked them up,” says Wood. “They’re ugly, so they had theirs way far back out of sight and didn’t use them. And they started a saying to me ‘Can you paint it?’ So you could have it in front of your house and not be embarrassed.”

Now Wood’s Rain Barrel Project has put together a traveling display of 12 of the 55-gallon barrels, decorated by local artists. They will go on view for a month at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, both inside and outside, debuting on Saturday March 1. After that they will move around for the next year to various area institutions concerned with both sustainability and aesthetics.

Wood’s project addresses both of these important issues. Rain barrels, hooked up to downspouts, collect rainwater and prevent it from going into the sewer system, taking pesticides, fertilizer, and pet waste with it. The water collected can then be used for gardening, car washing, and other non-drinking purposes. That’s why the city of Cleveland gives away around 400 rain barrels a year and has a program that employs youth to build and deliver them.

As beneficial as it is to get people to use rain barrels by making them attractive, birthing the Collinwood Painted Rain Barrel Project involved a lot of work and some setbacks before Wood located the local partners who got behind it.

She applied for a CPAC (Community Partnership for Arts and Culture) grant to hire other artists to paint the barrels and was initially turned down. She strengthened her proposal and resubmitted it. This time she got the money.

“I put out a call for artists,” she says. “We got 35 designs; a jury picked the top ten.”

She held an auction party at Arts Collinwood (now Waterloo Arts, on Waterloo Road) in April 2013. She hired local restaurants and the nearby Coit Road Market to cater; her husband Doug, an accomplished professional acoustic guitarist, provided the music.

“We had 70 people,” she says. “People paid $25; we hoped to break even. And all of [the barrels] went. So many people said ‘We want one,” we did 20 more. People have been so thrilled with them.”

She began to expand into workshops, landing funding from Neighborhood Connections and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to teach others how to decorate the barrels. Her first one, last August, attracted 30 people. She’s got another coming up at the Coit Road Market on May 10. People who already have a rain barrel can come and learn how to paint it for free.

But Wood started thinking bigger.

“After the first big workshop, I decided to take it to the Natural History Museum and offer them an exhibit to raise awareness of using rain barrels,” she says. “I approached David Beach [who runs the museum’s in-house sustainability center Green City Blue Lake] and pitched it to him. He said, ‘Great idea, I’ll pitch it to exhibits.’ They said, ‘Great idea, but we have no money.’ He got funding through the Sewer District.”

The City of Cleveland Water Pollution Control and Cleveland Lakefront Parks Conservancy are also sponsors. Participating artists include Michele Biondo, Joe Bruzas, Judy Campbell, Michael Greenwald, Cyndi Konopka, Scott Pickering, Rachel Strongoli, Omid Tavakoli, Ryann Upp, and Wood.

In April, the barrels move for a month to the Great Lakes Science Center, just in time for Earth Day. Wood is talking to a number of area institutions to host the barrels through the remainder of the year. It’s a lead-in to Sustainable Cleveland 2019’s focus area for 2015: the Year of Clean Water.

“It’s a perfect way to engage people,” she says. “People go, ‘Why would I want a rain barrel? It’s ugly.’ I’m making water conservation cool.”

Wood will be hosting programming at the Natural History Museum on Saturday, March 22 — World Water Day — when families will be invited to help paint a barrel. It’s free with admission to the museum. She’s hoping to do the same at the Great Lakes Science Center for Earth Day.

She’s got an indiegogo campaign going on to raise money for more programming. Check it out here.

Featured in CoolCleveland

FREE Rain Barrels

12 are left – 1st come/1st served: Contact Margaret Craig at Northeast Shores CDC 216 481-6951.
Each Cleveland cdc gets 25 to give away – go find out where yours is & put your name on the list: If you bring your barrel to my workshops to paint them – you are FREE.

Why Painted Rain Barrels?

Here on the North Coast of the U.S. in Cleveland, Ohio, a block away from Lake Erie is one of the largest freshwater sources in the world. Visible from Space, people.

Surface rainwater takes lawn chemicals and dog poop combined with storm water runoff into sewers, and overflow into the Lake. This slurry, along with excess industrial farm fertilizer, are causing toxic algae blooms, dead zones, and endangering the health of our Lake.

Rain Barrels help keep surface water onsite at home, OUT of the sewer!

Rain Barrels are practical but NOT pretty. In fact they are: Quite Gnarly.

Even the blue ones.

I want them to be Beautiful and COOL to OWN and USE. In 2011 I received a free rain barrel from the our Mayor’s Youth Opportunities Unlimited program, and was taken by surprise when it began showing big black patches of algae through the translucent white walls, quickly becoming an eyesore.

As an artist, I tackled the problem as I would any other: I sanded, primed and painted the barrel, while it was in use & too heavy to move, then brushed on multiple coats of an outdoor friendly acrylic boat sealant. I painted all the surfaces I could reach without too much rose thorn poking for a pretty successful project!

Neighbors watched my progress and as questions of help for their barrels trickled in, an idea was hatched.

In 2012 I applied for a Community Partnership for Arts and Culture Artist in Residence Grant and I received funding to create a painted rain barrel auction inspired by my pilot barrel. Ten were sent into the Greater CLE community to make lovely in their new homes and do good for our Lake.

I wrote a proposal to create a traveling exhibit for area museums and Metroparks visitors’ centers, and have received partial funding to make it happen!

Our exhibit will expose many thousands of visitors to the Rain Barrel potential for BEAUTY, FREE WATER and that WE ALL can help keep our Lake and Waterways CLEANER!

Keep an eye on this site for more pictures or our lovely barrels!



We want Rain Barrels to be Beautiful and COOL to OWN and USE.
Our traveling exhibit begins at @Cleveland Museum of Natural History March 2014, and @Great Lakes Science Center in April; will expose thousands of visitors to
The Rain Barrel potential for BEAUTY, FREE WATER and that WE ALL can help keep our Lake and Waterways CLEANER!

Hiring Regional Cleveland artists to design and paint a barrelwith their unique take on water and conservation, we then coat them with automotive sealant for weatherproofing. Donors receive:

  • $25: Signed Rain Barrel 11×17 Poster, Name listed on Facebook page.
  • $50: Doug Wood ‘DreamCatcher CD & Signed Poster, Name listed on Facebook page.
  • $75: 2 FREE Tickets to Great Lakes Science Center (your name at the door, any exhibit for 2014 – limited number available) Doug Wood ‘DreamCatcher CD & Signed Poster, Name listed on Facebook page.
  • $100: A hand-built ceramic bowl, 2 FREE Tickets to Great Lakes Science Center (your name at the door, any exhibit for 2014 – limited number available) Doug Wood ‘DreamCatcher CD & Signed Poster, Name listed on Facebook page.
  • $250: A Pair of Freshwater Pearl Earrings, A Hand-built Ceramic Bowl (your choice of style/colors for both) Doug Wood ‘DreamCatcher CD & Signed Poster, Name listed on Facebook page.

Bigger donations net larger gifts – even your own painted rain barrel!!