Art to the Rescue: Hand Sanitizer Barrel Art

07/02/2020 10:26 AM | Katherine Correll (Administrator)

Improvising for Public Health and Art in the Time of COVID-19 

Hand Sanitizer Barrel Art 

Tom Quinn, Executive Director, Alameda Corridor Business Improvement District.  

The City of Lakewood created the Alameda Corridor BID (ACBID) in 2003 to help revive and improve the area from Sheridan Boulevard to Carr Street.  Our priorities historically included street beautification, economic development and corridor safety.  The ACBID service area includes the heart of Downtown Lakewood with the centers of Belmar and Lakewood Commons along with several smaller shopping centers. 

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic our district believed public hand sanitizer stations were one way to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and increase public confidence in returning to public spaces to shop and dine.  However, we soon discovered that commercially made hand sanitizer stations were on 6 months back order and hand sanitizer was in short supply.  It was time to bring on the innovation!  

Our Programs Manager Sarah happened to have a teenage son working for a company called Recycled Mat-ters that sold, among other things, repurposed 55-gallon drums.  We quickly pivoted to figure out how the drums could be fitted with hand sanitizer dispensers and decorated.  I contacted local handyman Nate Wightman to ask if he had any ideas for a design.  Within a few days he came up with using plastic PVC sprinkler valve boxes as housings for the hand sanitizer bottles.  The bottles would be secured inside the housings with a padlock.  

We also had to solve the problem of finding a supply of hand sanitizer.  We heard Lakewood’s Ballmer Peak Distillery was making hand sanitizer and contacted them.  They quickly agreed to supply the hand sanitizer, bottles and pumps.  

Next, to make the barrels into fun works of art we teamed with Valerie Saverie, the owner of Valkarie Gallery in the Arts on Belmar, also known as Block 7.  We proposed recruiting a team of local artists to paint the barrels with artwork of their own designs.  In a matter of days, she recruited a team of 18 local artists and developed a schedule for painting the barrels on the sidewalk outside her gallery.  The plan required precise timing to have the barrels delivered, primed, painted and deployed.  We set aside two days to get this done. 

We primed the barrels on June 17 and 18 and the artists came in shifts to paint them. The result was 30 steel drums with hand sanitizer dispensers on top painted with a wide variety of colorful designs. The barrels were picked up and distributed in the major commercial centers.  Area residents responded immediately with complements on the artwork and hand sanitizer!  

This project is an example of how improvisation and team-work can have great results for a community.  By working together, we created something both functional and decorative to improve the environment and help reduce the spread of COVID-19. ACBID is happy to share this idea with other districts, including the design for the dispensers.  For more information please contact Tom Quinn,, (303) 274-1807. 



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