A hand-painted piano will be installed Friday on the bandstand in Memorial Peace Park, where it will remain throughout the summer, free for all to play, anytime.
The piano, painted at Vicuna Studio by artists with the Ridge Meadows Association of Community Living, with the help of artist in residence Robi Smith, is one of 24 located in public spaces around Metro Vancouver as part of the annual Pianos on the Street program.
An event is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday in Memorial Peace Park, where guests will perform on the piano in Maple Ridge to celebrate the start of the program.
“This is my second time painting a piano with the artists from Vicuna Studio,” said Smith. “I have a lot of fun painting with them. We agreed that this year we’d like the piano to be very colourful, with a simple, bold design. The walls of the studio are filled with the paintings created by the artists and we were particularly inspired by a landscape painting that features large blocks of bright colour, edged with thick lines of complementary or contrasting colours. We decided to try the same effect on the piano. We added the stars to give the design an added burst of energy.”
Founded in 2009 as part of the Piano Teacher’s Federation, the Lower Mainland’s largest outdoor public piano project focuses on connecting communities through music and giving local non-profit associations and community groups the chance to participate in creating public art.
Last year, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith played the introduction to one of his band’s songs, Dream On, on the public piano in Kelowna.
Pianos On the Street works exclusively with local non-profit associations on designing and hand-painting each piano to reflect the diversity of each group and unique neighborhood the piano is installed in.
“I started Pianos On the Street because pianos and music are in my blood. Giving local non-profit organizations the chance to gain public awareness and connect our neighbourhoods to one another through music, is one of the best way, I believe, to bring joy into every community,” said Sean Pacey, founder of the Piano Teacher’s Federation.
The piano will remain at the bandstand until mid-September, when it will be moved inside the Maple Ridge Public Library.
Last year, no location was found for the piano used in Maple Ridge and it was taken to Vancouver, said Ineke Boekhorst, with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association.
Thanks to the library, the public will have access to the piano until next summer, when it can be moved outside again.
Boekhorst and the BIA invites the public the come and play the piano, for daycares to bring children or piano teachers to use it for lessons.
Pianos are less and less in people’s homes, she added, because of their size or cost, so the program is a good way to introduce the instrument to those who have never seen or played one.
This summer also marks the return of Pianos On the Street’s photo and video contest. To enter, users simply share a photo or video of themselves playing the piano with the hashtag #PianosOnTheStreet on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Photos and videos will be judged by a hand selected panel of judges, including Lindy Sisson of the ACT in Maple Ridge.