In the spring of 2016, I was exploring the public art on Main Street in Mesa, Arizona. One of the coolest things I saw was a Pepto-Bismol pink piano labeled “Play Me, I’m Yours.” What was this about? I had no idea, but loved the presence of a piano out on the street available for anyone to play. As I walked further east on Main Street, I encountered two more street pianos. Very interesting, I thought. I figured the pianos were part of downtown Mesa’s permanent sculpture collection and didn’t think much more about them until I sat down to write this post.
According to the Street Pianos website,
Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from London to New York, bearing the simple instruction Play Me, I’m Yours.
Located on streets, in public parks, markets and train stations the pianos are temporarily available for everyone to play and enjoy. Play Me, I’m Yours invites the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment. Decorated by local artists and community groups, the pianos create a place of exchange and an opportunity for people to connect.
It’s really cool to find out the pianos I encountered are part of a global phenomenon. But wait, it gets better!
The page of the Street Pianos website dedicated to Mesa says,
Mesa Arts Center presented Play Me, I’m Yours, from March 1 until April 9 2016, as part of the celebrations of a major milestone: 10 years at their beautiful location in Downtown Mesa, AZ. 24 playable and artistically enhanced pianos were featured, in Downtown Mesa and at other satellite locations throughout the city.
What? Those pianos were there for a limited time only, and I got to see them? How cool is that? (Very cool, I think.)
I’m going to do three blog posts about the three Play Me, I’m Yours piano I encountered in Mesa.
Today I am writing about piano #6, which was located on Main Street, east of MacDonald. According to the Street Pianos website (where you can also view videos of people playing this piano),i t was decorated by artist: Kyllan Maney and students of the New School For The Arts and was donated by Myrna Horton.
According to Kyllan Maney’s website, she
works with aspects of nature that reminds her of the feelings of tranquility, discovery, spirituality and awe that exist when looking at plants and objects closely. The visual foundation of Kyllan’s work is rooted in scientific illustrations, religious icons, human relationships and inspiration from past and current artists. Kyllan enjoys the inventive, creative process of working with mixed media, oil painting and large scale murals.
There’s so much I like about this piano. I think its bright, eye-catching color is grand. I like the individual portraits decorating it. As I said before, I think it is so cool to see pianos out and about, available for anyone to play.
Unfortunately, I don’t know how to play the piano. Music lessons were not something my parents
could afford when I was a kid, and by the time I took a piano class in high school, it was too late. I realized I basically have no musical talent, and it was going to take way more effort than I was willing to exert to learn to play the piano (or anything else).
That evening in Mesa, I was sad I couldn’t sit down and coax a song from this instrument, but I was glad to know it was out there waiting for someone more talented than I .
I am Kyllan Maney.. my students and I were inspired by the picture gallery in the movie The Royal Tennenbaums. HEnce, the Pepto Bismo pink, slightly 70s styling. The students wanted to paint portraits of all types. David Bowie had died the day we were sketching ideas. His creativity is a huge inspiration to our students in many different ways. We also seem to have a bit of a long standing identifying with cats. maybe because we all feel independent.
Thank you for the write up. This was an amazing project to be apart of. We do have a You Tube video on creating this piano. https://youtu.be/JLdRYrvh42M.
Kyllan, thank you so much for reading my post and leaving a comment.
I always enjoy hearing about the process artists and writers go through to get to their end result. Thank you for telling us how you and your students made some of your artistic decisions.
I was tickled to come across that piano in Mesa. I didn’t even know it was part of a much larger project until I started writing about it. I only wish I knew how to play so I could have sat down and belted out a song.