Barrels of Fun: Stevens Point encourages people to turn old construction barrels into works of artSubmitted: 06/30/2016

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STEVENS POINT - On a busy street with lots of traffic, you can easily get tunnel vision. But outside the Sell family house on Division Street, something certainly stands out.

"So many people have been noticing my yard and just stopping by," Anne Sell said Thursday morning.

It doesn't take long to figure out why. Standing more than six feet tall, covered in reflective tape and made out of old construction barrels, is Anne and her husband's creation: a squirrel they've named Nuts & Bolts.

"You know that email you send your husband, the, "'Hey, honey. Want to make a squirrel out of construction barrels with me?" Sell recalls thinking.

Sell decided to make her so-called "barrel monster" after hearing about Stevens Point's Orange Barrel Art Tour from a local arts group.

The graphic designer and her husband sawed, shaped, and screwed the squirrel together in about three hours.

"I like the idea of taking art out of the museums and bringing it right in the yards and the streets, where people walk by it all the time and see it," Sell said.

On a quieter street across town, photographer Rosalind Kealiher put the finishing touches on her own eye-catching creation Thursday. Fittingly enough, Kealiher made a camera.

"[The organizers] provided the supplies and they let you go with it," Kealiher said. "They didn't say yes or no to any particular idea at all."

A local company donated all the barrels from old construction sites, so the artists got them for free. When they're done with the project, the artists can simply throw the barrels in the recycling bin.

Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau' executive director came up with the barrel idea this spring. She hoped to put a clever twist on everyone's least favorite Wisconsin season: construction.

"Everyone can get their hand in it, everyone can go and see it, everyone can explore their own creative side and take advantage of that," said Visitors Bureau Marketing Director Melissa Sabel.

Portage County seems to be warming to the project. From race cars to beer bottles, you can find nine of the sculptures around town.

"We're all working separate and making our own, but really we're a part of something bigger, which is really cool," Kealiher said.

For the Sells, the project is a reminder to not take life so seriously.

"You could just be having the worst day of your life and just look up and see something that makes you laugh and makes you think there's more to life than my one bad day," Sell said.

Turning brightly colored reminders of construction delays and headaches into eye-catching barrels of fun.

The Stevens Point Visitors Center is still accepting entries. The sculptures will stand now through Labor Day. For more info, click on the link below.

Related Weblinks:
Orange Barrel Art Tour Website

Story By: Lane Kimble

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