The newest public art venture in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts was formally unveiled today.
Springfield is now one of about 40 cities around the world with “street pianos.”
Upright pianos that have been colorfully decorated by professional artists have been put at three locations downtown. The pianos have signs inviting people – regardless of skill level – to sit down and play.
Morgan Drewniany, Executive Director of the Springfield Central Cultural District, said the pianos will add vibrancy to downtown and create a feeling of community.
"People love them," Drewniany said Monday. "On social media people have posted photos and videos of the pianos."
The project also provides income to artists. Three different professional artists were awarded bids to decorate the pianos. Professional musicians like Larry Picard, heard playing here, will be hired to play the pianos during lunchtime in July and August.
Last summer, the cultural district hired artists to paint colorful murals on drab gray utility boxes throughout the downtown.
"I was interested in adding dimensions to that, so instead of just doing murals this summer we wanted to do something musical to light up the streetscape and still support our local artists," explained Drewniany.
The street pianos, which were donated by the Community Music School, are located outside the office buildings at 1350 and 1550 Main Street, and at the Market Place Shops.
Jody Lynn-Manning said a piano was put in front of her interior decorations store late last week.
"It's a lot of fun to watch people's reactions when they come up and see this colorful instrument sitting there open for anyone to play," she said.
City officials and board members of the cultural district showcased the street piano project Monday with a brief ceremony. Rather than cut a ribbon, or read a proclamation, Mayor Domenic Sarno sat down at the piano to gamely play a tune.
The street pianos will be left out until late September.