Keith Bona's 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' installed at the front of the North Adams Public Library. The celestial theme ties in with the library's summer reading program.
ADAMS, Mass. — Big, beautiful and artfully crafted, the Painted Pianos began arriving at parks and libraries, galleries and restaurants on Monday.
It wasn't long before they attracted crowds who began tinkling the ivories.
The summerlong collaborative celebration of the Berkshire Summer of Music and famed conductor and pianist Leonard Bernstein's 100th birthday will be making music in the community beginning Wednesday through Aug. 25. The melding of visual arts and music will include a number of pop-up concerts and conclude with an auctioning off of the artwork to benefit the Berkshire Music School.
Tracy Wilson, executive director of the Berkshire Music School, said the concept had been to provide a musical connection (almost all the pianos have been tuned up for playing) to a number of the reading programs at local libraries. More than a dozen pianos were donated and a couple "meetups" were held for artists to chose the one that most inspired them.
"Panels off the pianos will auctioned but some of the pianos have become sculptural pieces," she said on Friday, as the final touches were being made on the pianos stored at the Memorial Building.
An old player piano, for instance, was completely deconstructed to create a sculpture; another piano was enhanced with a fantastical wavy keyboard by artist Henry Klein.
Artist Keith Bona did two pianos — a large upright covered in galaxies ("Also Sprach Zarathustra")as a tribute to the late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, whom he served with on the North Adams City Council, and a patriotic piano for Pittsfield evoking its annual Fourth of July Parade.
He'd considered how the piano would be disassembled for the artwork to be auctioned off, such as putting the main paintings on the music desk, or shelf, that flips down to hold the music sheets. The galaxy piano's has a Bernstein led concert under a glowing galaxy and the patriotic piano another orchestra, this time in a shell reminiscent of the Charles River Esplanade.
"If someone is interested in buying the whole piano, they should let the school know beforehand," Bona said.
The live auction will take place on Sunday, Aug. 26. Until then, viewers can see (and in most cases try out) the pianos at various venues around the county.
While some pieces will be inside, most will be outdoors to they will be more available. Venues will be provided with tarps to cover up the pieces in case of inclement weather.
The project is being sponsored by a host of organizations, including the town of Adams and the Adams Arts Advisory Board and by All-Ways Moving Co., which was providing the muscle and time on Monday to get them where they needed to be.
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