The Street Pianos Are Coming! New York's Latest Public Art Experiment

Ljerram.1.jpg
Photo by Luke Jerram.
In 2004, there were "The Gates".

And in 2008, there were "The Waterfalls".

And now, in 2010, there will be THE STREET PIANOS!

Yes, New York City's latest exciting and wonderful and generally tourist-confounding public art experiment thankfully doesn't involve branding that makes us hate it more than we already did. No. The Street Pianos seem like they're going to be a little better than that. The New York Times wrote about (color-blind!) installation artist Luke Jerram's efforts with the Street Pianos in London last year:

"They're out there to get people talking to one another and to claim ownership and activate the public space," said the creator of the project, Luke Jerram, an artist who lives in Bristol. He previously brought incarnations of it to Birmingham, England; São Paolo, Brazil; and Sydney, Australia. "It's a blank canvas for everyone's creativity."

And apparently, it worked, and produced YouTube gems like this:

This ... is a pretty wonderful idea. New Yorkers are a talented bunch! Think of all the impromptu cabaret sessions that could come out of this! The project -- actually called "Play Me, I'm Yours" -- and its pianos are coming around from June 21 to July 5. All the locations are here -- Manhattan has 27 locations -- but the pianos will be making their way around all five boroughs (from the Bronx Zoo to Flushing Meadows), so you'll likely cross paths with one at some point. And of course, there's going to be a bit of a scene when this thing gets started:

Noted artists and celebrities taking part in Play Me, I'm Yours through public service announcement endorsements and public performances include Alicia Keys, Actress Lauren Ambrose, renowned Baritone Nathan Gunn, Broadway performers Tituss Burgess and Emmy winner Kevin Mambo, the cast of the Tony-winning revival musical HAIR, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The point, of course, being: Get your meanest rendition of "Chopsticks" sharpened up. This is gonna be cool, which is besides the fact that it's a community effort (as it's being set up by an an organization called Sing for Hope, which works to assist local artists, and they'll be donating the pianos to local schools and community centers once the project is over). Follow Jerram on Twitter here, and follow Sing for Hope on Twitter here.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]

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