Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Play Me I'm Yours: An Evening With Artists and Organizers At the Close of the Street Piano Exhibit

A few weeks ago I posted about my interest in conducting a full scale research project centered around the public art installation Play Me I'm Yours for the 2015 PanAm Games.

Since then I've traveled around the city, searching for pianos, meeting fascinating people and learning a lot about artists from around Toronto and all over North America.  In parks and on street corners, inside and outside of public buildings and placed under the most important monuments the city can claim, these pianos have won the hearts of Torontonians.  Today, July 31st is the last day of the public exhibition, and as a result of this blog, The Umbrella, and the connection it helped me make with artist Karen Miranda Augustine, I was invited to attend the closing reception of the Play Me I'm Yours Exhibit. 

I knew I was extremely fortunate to find myself in such a position, and I thus decided to take advantage of it.  I walked about the room with my phone and held a few short interviews with many of the artists. I was intrigued to hear their stories about how it all got started, what their experiences had been thus far and what they felt the overall reception was of the project.  To my delight, they were equally as happy to meet me and were more than willing to discuss their art, their lives and their overall contribution to the Play Me I'm Yours project.  

There was wine and there were hors d'oeuvres and the artists reminisced about the period of time they spent working on the pianos in the workshop together, their anxiety prior to going in and the lasting friendships they made as a result.  

Another wonderful connection I made was with the admirers of the project, the ones who are never thanked enough for their time - the volunteer "piano buddies."  I spoke to a few people of this designation tonight, and they had some interesting stories of their own from a unique perspective.  For example, one woman told me about her running out before the storms to quickly cover the pianos, or another man who told me about his confrontations with shady individuals who may or may not have been trying to deface the instruments.  

But the main, overriding trend of the evening was no doubt the absolute love ad admiration everyone there felt for the project, and for what its done for this city.  In his address to the group that this was the most successful manifestation of the street piano project - a world wide exhibit which has traveled through some major cities like Los Angeles and New York.  And what have the people of Toronto had to say about it?  The most common response I've had from the countless people I've encountered playing and enjoying the pianos is that they'll be sad to see them go.  

Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for my individual posts on the artists involved in Play Me I'm Yours and their pianos.  

Thanks for reading!

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