Pianos in the Parks 2015

Pianos in the Parks 2015 is here!

Pianos in the Parks is a collaborative project in Seattle and King County parks, it uses the power of art and music to get people out to discover parks, connect with people and have fun.  This is a community effort combining the talents of 22 artists and the vision and efforts of 16 different partner organizations.  This is the 2nd year for Pianos in the Parks and we hope that it will be able to continue.  Last year hundreds of people were inspired to sit in the parks and play the piano, the launching event for this was today and by tomorrow the pianos will all be placed in their temporary new homes in the park. 

The artists from Gage Academy of Art worked in a variety of creative ways to create beautiful and unique pianos.  It took each artist about two weeks to paint and decorate their pianos. I don't have room for photos of all 22 pianos, here are some examples, make sure to look at the rest- in person at each park if possible!
Marina Park Piano by Kate Rose Johnson
and Samuel Johnson

Bellevue Downtown Park
Eye-guy from Outer Space by Vikram Madan

Green Lake Piano
by Brittany Carchano
Monster Piano by Queenie Sunshine
at Luther Burbank Park

Riffing Music Pink & Blue- Homage to O'Keefe
by Kathleen Moor at the Sea-Tac International Airport

Sketchbook by George Jennings in Ballard Commons Park

My piano 'Starry, Starry Notes' located at Seacrest Park
I am happy to be a participating artist this year with my painted piano which is influenced by Van Gogh's painting The Starry Night.

My piano is in West Seattle at Seacrest park which is where the Elliot Bay Water Taxi stops.

I have always loved The Starry Night, and was excited to use that as my inspiration for this.  I wrote about Starry Night in an earlier blog post from August 2012, here is an excerpt-

"In the blue depths the stars were sparkling, greenish, yellow, white, pink, more brilliant, more sparklingly gemlike than at home - even in Paris."1

So wrote Vincent Van Gogh while he was in Saint-Rémy during the time when he painted his famous painting, The Starry Night.  Van Gogh created this, one of his most famous works of art and a favorite of mine, in June of 1889 about a month after he moved to the mental asylum in the small town of Saint-Rémy outside of Arles where he had been living.  While Van Gogh was there he painted constantly, taking his inspiration from the views out of his window and the countryside around him. 
The Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889, 29 x 36 1/4" (73.7 x 92.1 cm)
Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York

Art Historian Robert Rosenblum wrote of Van Gogh:

"Of the many marvels that make up Van Gogh's genius, one is his uncanny capacity to project his total visual and emotional attention into anything he painted, animate or inanimate, so that a shoe, a sunflower, a chair, a book could carry as much weight as the image of a human being."2

This statement is also true of his landscapes.  Van Gogh's night sky does seem to vibrate and swirl with its own personality and the vivid hues of the stars, sky, moon and cypresses have a near anthropomorphic quality lacking in the landscapes of the French Impressionists whose work influenced his style.

In the town (which is imagined) the only building to rise above everything is the church with its steeple touching the sky.  That same form is echoed in the foreground with the shape of the cypress trees also touching the heavens. Van Gogh trained as a preacher and spent time working as a minister in Belgium before his artistic career. 
 The Starry Night, pen and ink drawing, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889, 18.5 x 24.5"
Museum of Architecture, Moscow

Van Gogh loved to draw also and frequently sketched out drawings first of works he would later paint in oils.  The pen and ink drawing Van Gogh did of this painting is strikingly similar, however he did make a few alterations in his final painted work. 

Yet he managed to create the same feeling of vibrant swirling movement in his drawing and creates a work of art which is far from the quiet and serene landscape one would imagine when picturing a starry night in a small rural town.

While Van Gogh's The Starry Night is a unique style of landscape painting, he included the night sky in a few of his other works.  Vincent Van Gogh was known to have painted outside with candles placed in his hat so that he could see to work at night.  In a letter to his sister during the same month that he painted this view of the Rhône at night, Vincent wrote:

"Often it seems to me night is even more richly coloured than day."3

Never does this statement seems to be more true then when viewing Van Gogh's nighttime landscape paintings. 

1 Feaver, William. Van Gogh, The Masterworks. New York: Portland House. (1990) p. 41. 
2 Rosenblum, Robert and H.W. Janson. 19th-Century Art. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (1984) p. 414.
3 Musée d'Orsay website, La nuit étoilée.

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