Keney Park Project
July 19, 2011

In Connecticut’s Hartford Keney Park 16 inner-city students from the “Our Piece Of The Pie” (OPP) Summer Program created three trash drum artworks for deployment in the parks. OPP partnered with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Environmental Justice Program and Connecticut Work Force Partners.  It is designed to help young adults access and attain the educational, employment, and personal skills that lead to success. Mr. Paul Gemme is a Youth Business Manager of OPP and has trained hundreds of young people about woodworking, boat building, and nature.
Doris Johnson, Outreach and Education Coordinator of the DEEP"s Environmental Justice Program partnered with OPP to implement the 2011 Keney Park Oil Drum Art Summer Project. Ms. Johnson commented, “The goal of this program is to nurture environmental stewardship through hands-on activities by youths of all ages and cultivate an understanding and appreciation for nature.
This workshop is one of many created by Oil Drum Art (ODA) and the DEEP that brings inner-city youngsters into parks to transform recycled 55-gallon oil drums into public art that also helps collect litter. Since 2004 over 1500 students and artists have painted more than 500 Trash Drum Artworks that have been placed in parks, civic buildings, schools and neighborhood streets.
In 2012 the next major Trash Drum Art program will feature 30 drums painted by students from Hartford Public Schools, OPP,  DEEP’s “Leave No Child Inside,” and numerous Hartford Youth Services agencies.  The City of Hartford is collaborating with ODA and its energy and environmental art exhibition that will present 40 artworks created by regional artists and the 30 student trash drums.  The exhibition will be housed in the Hartford Union Station Great Hall for a month beginning in late April.


Photo caption:
L-R: Row one:, Jack Lardis (ODA President), Byheme Trice, Deniss Mercado, Yodiel Cruz, Reymond Molina,
Tiana Edwards, Shawn Molina, Kneeling: Solomon Jones
Row Two: Kamiliah Deleon, Brittany Kerr, Ismeraliz Ortiz, Glorimar Castro, Xavier Gomes, Gary Garcia
Standing: Paul Gemme (OPP Manager), Abilgael Sanchez (Art teacher), Edith Pestana (DEEP), Doris Johnson (DEEP), Eddie Guimont. Missing: Jermaine Everette-Welcome.

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(Seated -- Left to right) Colonel John Whitford, Connecticut National Guard;
Dr. Arnold Frank, Principal Woodland Regional High School;
Therese Conroy, State Representative for District #105;
Jack Lardis at the lectern, Chairman Drums For Troops.

Mattatuck Drum Band of Waterbury, CT, performed a medley of military of music.

Naugatuck Valley students and artists who painted 19 “Drums For Troops” at the Woodland Regional High School Auditorium. (photos - Rockwell Studios, Naugatuck, CT)


NAUGATUCK VALLEY – During the summer American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will receive 19 recycled 30-gallon oil drums filled with a variety of donated dry goods collected by Oil Drum Art, The Valley Arts Council, eight Naugatuck Valley schools, Lowe’s Home Improvement, and American Legion John H. Collins Post 24.  The initiative is called “Drums For Troops” and was launched in February to provide GIs with needed items not available in the Middle East.

Jack Lardis, Greg Karas, and Tracy Mariano delivered the recycled drums to 15 valley schools where students painted recycled oil drums with hometown and patriotic themes, wrote letters and poems, painted pictures and greeting cards that will be included in the drums. The drums were painted by students and valley artists and will be filled with a variety of donated goods, foods and messages. Each drum will have a decal listing the schools, students, and artists who painted a drum plus another decal will list those who made a donation of funds, goods and services.

A “Drums For Troops Presentation Ceremony” took place on Thursday, May 20th, at 7PM in the Woodland Regional High School Auditorium, 135 Back Rimmon Road, Beacon Falls, CT. Over 150 students and their families, teachers, school staff, valley artists, the Connecticut National Guard, local veteran’s clubs, donating sponsors, and the general public are expected.

The ceremony began with the “Presentation of Colors” followed by the National Anthem. “Drums For Troops” Chairman Jack Lardis introduced the program and keynote speaker State Representative Theresa W. Conroy whose constituency includes Ansonia, Beacon Falls, and Seymour.  Representative Conroy spoke about how our communities are giving back to those who are in Harm’s Way. Dr. Arnold Frank, Principal of Woodland Regional High School, talked about the student’s enthusiasm for the project and expressing their thanks to American soldiers for protecting America. Colonel John R. Whitford of the Connecticut National Guard has spent a major part of his military career in Connecticut talked about the American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Then the 19 painted drums will be presented to the National Guard in a symbolic ceremony.

The students, teachers, and artists were asked to step forward and stand next to their drum art for a group photograph. The drums were returned to the Valley Arts Council, 119 Elizabeth Street in Derby, where they will be filled with collected donated goods and prepared for shipping to the soldiers in the Middle East.

The “Drums For Troops” initiative was created by Jack Lardis, president and founder of Oil Drum Art from Beacon Falls, and members from the Valley Arts Council in Derby.  The council committee members are Jill Nichols of Trumbull, Betty Barriga of Seymour, Tracy Mariano of Naugatuck, and chairman Lardis of Beacon Falls. 

Anyone interested in donating dry goods or sending $75.00 toward the costs of the project should contact Jack Lardis, “Drums For Troops” Chairman at 203-729-0800 or mail to 7 Old Sawmill Drive, Beacon Falls, CT 06403. Both art organizations are 501[c]3 not-for-profits and donations are tax deductible.