Pianos as Public Art, and the Public’s Playthings
By JAMES BARRON
Photographs by Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times
Jerome Ware Jr. pressed his palm into a tray of orange paint. Then he found exactly the right spot for a handprint on the top of an upright piano he had just painted gold.
“Contrasts, that’s what I’m going for,” he said.
Jerome, 16, was painting one of 60 pianos that will hit the city’s streets next Monday as part of a public art project called “Play Me, I’m Yours” (see map below). On corners, in parks, the pianos will be an eyeful as well as an earful, with attention-getting cases and living-color keys — green or blue, or all black instead of the usual allotment of 52 white and 36 black.
So before the whole city finds out who needs to brush up on the “Minuet in G,” volunteers have been putting brushes to the pianos.
The nonprofit arts group behind the project, Sing for Hope, is betting that transforming the pianos into something to see as well as something to hear will make the installation as captivating as art installations like “the Gates,” the orange gates and matching draperies that stretched across Central Park in 2005, or the four-waterfall exhibit on the East River in 2008. Painting the pianos also brought back memories of the fiberglass cows that took up residence here in the summer of 2000.