Mesa Arts Center Engages People With Street Art Pianos, The New Musical Public Art Project

February 26, 2016

Play me, I'm Yours. These are the key words that best describe Luke Jerram's public art project that will be on display at Arts Center in Mesa Arizona. The British artist's interactive installation includes 24 beautiful working pianos each painted and decorated in a unique way and thus transformed into an artwork. And though they attract with their appearance these pianos are not only for show. With one simple instruction that states Play Me, I'm Yours the visitors are encouraged to use them and add a musical element to the show.

A Video of a Passer-by Playing How Come You Don't Call Me

Engaging Local Residents and Artists

One piano is painted with numerous portraits of cats, another features a set of large white sheets and a third is decorated with a snowflake design. All of them were embellished by local residents and all have the same mission - to reach the hearts of people in Arizona and around the globe. Including the audience is the main goal of the project and viewers can engage in numerous ways by playing, dancing, singing or staging a performance of a sort. Every form of artistic expression is welcomed. Luke Jerram got the idea for Street Pianos after one of his other projects failed. The city of Birmingham hired the young artist to invent a project that would musically reach large groups of people. Since his original concept of flying the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in the hot air balloons failed the artist had to come up with something else ... quickly. That's how the Street Pianos project was born and since its debut in the city of Birmingham the installation toured worldwide.

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Graffiti Surrounded a Piano in Bristol, Photograph by Luke Jerram

Street Pianos on a World Tour

While keeping its original concept intact, the elements of the project varied from one place to another. In Austin, in Texas, for instance, the undecorated pianos were set up on the streets and the passers-by were invited to spray paint them as a form of a legal graffiti. Another thing that changes is the way that people react to the project in different parts of the world. “In London people would film themselves playing the piano quite shyly, I suppose, whereas when we presented the project in New York, people thought of it like some giant X-Factor competition, and they were dressing like pop stars and introducing themselves to the camera and saying, ‘This is my song,’ like they wanted to be discovered.”- the artist recalled in a conversation for az central.

Street Pianos in Santiago, Chile

Street Pianos to Commemorate Mesa Arts Center Anniversary

Before it reached Mesa Arts Center in Arizona the project toured worldwide and over 1400 pianos were decorated and exhibited since it was established in 2008. Artworks from Play Me, I’m Yours will be on view from March 1st until April 9th, 2016, on the streets in Downtown Mesa but also on several satellite locations around the city. The unveiling of the pianos will represent a part of the special jubilee - 10 years since the center resides in the current location. The organizers have prepared several special events for the anniversary, first of which, Mesa Arts Center Foundation Annual Gala, will be held today, on February 26th from 2 pm to 6 pm. Tickets can be bought at Mesa Arts Center official website. All 24 pianos will be brought together for one day only in a second special event that will be held on Saturday, February 27th at Mesa Arts Center.

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Featured images : Piano at Canary Wharf photograph by Sally Reay ; Street piano near Mesa Arts Center in Arizona, 2016 ; Images via Mesa Arts Center Foundation