After a decade of reducing obstacles to artwork, Piano. Push. Play. rolls on


Megan McGeorge is flanked by half a dozen upright pianos, every adorned with colourful, typically wild, decorations. Right now, she’s determined to play one with a large, snarling tiger painted on the entrance.

“The bench [has] tiger stripes,” says McGeorge as she exhibits off the instrument. “And on the again there are additionally tiger stripes. And if we open up the highest, which we’ll in a second, there’s slightly mind — slightly tiger mind. The artists actually go above and past.”

These stunning works are all a part of Piano. Push. Play. It’s an annual interactive artwork set up based and directed by McGeorge.

Artist Lucas Beaufort paints a piano for Piano. Push. Play.

Artist Lucas Beaufort paints a piano for Piano. Push. Play.

Henry Cromett / Courtesy of Piano. Push. Play.

“And they’re on the streets of Portland,” she says. “They’re in your public parks. They’re in courtyards amongst the town. And they’re for anyone to play and revel in.”

Her group has humble roots. A bit over a decade in the past, McGeorge was strolling down NW Burnside Avenue in Portland when she and a gaggle of mates encountered a cello participant busking on the sidewalk.

“All of us stopped in our tracks and we stood there and had this second that actually appeared transcendent,” remembers McGeorge. “It was so stunning. And I keep in mind saying to my mates on the time, “I want I might try this.”

McGeorge is a skilled musician, however her instrument of selection is the piano. Its dimension and weight make an impromptu sidewalk efficiency seemingly unimaginable. However undeterred, she pursued the thought and reached out to the close by Portland Piano Firm to see if they’d mortgage her a piano to play on the sidewalk in downtown Portland. To her shock, they agreed.

The corporate even threw in a rickety dolly to assist transfer the instrument round.

A fluorescent piano designed by artist Chet Malinow for for Piano. Push. Play.

A fluorescent piano designed by artist Chet Malinow for for Piano. Push. Play.

Benji Vuong / Courtesy of Piano. Push. Play.

“Me and a few mates, each Thursday for that summer season, we’d go to Portland Piano Co. at 3 o’clock and would seize this piano and push it up the road,” says McGeorge. “Then we’d simply park it and we’d take turns enjoying for individuals.”

McGeorge’s pal, the musician and artist referred to as Jane, labored on the close by Ace Lodge and was a part of that early crew of volunteers.

“We actually pushed the piano from that retailer to the nook the place American Attire was,” he says. “That’s the way it began. She simply wanted some assist shifting furnishings, and I helped to push the piano, therefore the identify.”

Piano. Push. Play.

The next yr, McGeorge settled on the challenge’s present type the place painted pianos are put in at varied areas across the metropolis for public use. Artists like Jane are given virtually unfettered artistic license of their design. He accomplished his first piano in 2020.

“I ended up getting caught on this phrase: ‘Black Is Love.’ I needed to place it on a pristine background as a substitute of one thing black, so we went with a completely white piano,” he remembers. “To form of symbolize the expansion and sweetness that comes out [of the piano and phrase], we traced dahlias and beautiful flowers on the facet in metallic paints. It was form of a whirlwind to get it finished in time, however a hell of a number of enjoyable for certain.”

However there’s one rule. Every piano have to be emblazoned with the phrase: “Please play me.”

A pastel impressionistic piano designed by Maja Dlugolecki for Piano. Push. Play.

A pastel impressionistic piano designed by Maja Dlugolecki for Piano. Push. Play.

Benji Vuong / Courtesy of Piano. Push. Play.

It’d appear to be a minor element however for Kyle O’Quin, who performs keyboards for the Grammy-Award-winning band Portugal. The Man., these three phrases are what make Piano. Push. Play. distinctive.

“A lot of the pianos you see—and I can let you know from private expertise—in motels and issues all have indicators that say: ‘Please don’t play this piano. Underneath any circumstances don’t play this piano.’ It’s not for you. We don’t need you to play it. They’re very uninviting,” says O’Quin.

O’Quin and his bandmates, who’re all longtime supporters of the challenge, admire its aim of reducing obstacles to artwork.

“Lots of people don’t have entry to a piano, sadly. It makes it extra accessible and fewer pretentious,” he says.

And that’s necessary as a result of O’Quin makes a powerful argument that the piano is essentially the most democratic of devices.

“It’s timeless. You may play something on it,” he says earlier than rattling off an inventory of songs starting from Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” to compositions by Chopin and Scott Joplin.

“You’ve acquired 88 notes, a few pedals, and your creativeness,” says O’Quin. “That’s one of many issues I really like concerning the piano. It actually spans all of time.”

A Jimi Hendrix-themed piano designed by Daren Todd for Piano. Push. Play.

A Jimi Hendrix-themed piano designed by Daren Todd for Piano. Push. Play.

Benji Vuong / Courtesy of Piano. Push. Play.

O’Quin’s enthusiasm for Piano. Push. Play. isn’t remoted. Prior to now decade, the challenge has grown in scope and dimension. It cast partnerships with organizations like Portland Artwork Museum and Portland Parks and Recreation. The group has additionally acquired funding from distinguished musicians like jazz artist Esperanza Spalding.

Whereas Piano. Push. Play founder Megan McGeorge is now not shoving a piano up Burnside Avenue every Thursday afternoon, her mission stays the identical.

“This can be a community-making machine,” says McGeorge.

“Individuals must keep in mind that the issues within them — their music, their artwork — these are particular issues that it’s best to share.”

Piano. Push. Play. hosts a kick-off live performance on July 1 at Pioneer Courthouse Sq. in downtown Portland. The areas of this yr’s batch of pianos shall be introduced on the occasion.

A tiger-themed piano made by artist Caleb Jay for Piano. Push. Play.

A tiger-themed piano made by artist Caleb Jay for Piano. Push. Play.

Benji Vuong / Courtesy of Piano. Push. Play.



Supply hyperlink