If you find a piano on the sidewalk uptown this month, it’s totally normal. Piano Parking Charlotte, a temporary art exhibition uptown, is back for the third year.
Though it was originally a collaboration between Charlotte Center City Partners (CCCP) and the Arts & Science Council, the 2016 exhibition is just being handled by CCCP. Their staff even painted the pianos themselves as a team-building exercise, with piano themes ranging from “Pink Panther” to Jackson Pollock.
I got a Charlotte Hornets vibe from the the one I found outside St. Peter’s Catholic Church (photographed above). It was also painted with the hashtag #MUSICIS4ALL. This one and the other five upright pianos were planted in various locations uptown on Sept. 13, all donated by community members.
In the past, local musicians were brought in to get the music going, but not this year.
“We wanted to do it a little bit more organically and see what would happen,” said Steven Cole, CCCP director of communications.
I didn’t catch anyone playing the piano on Sunday (granted, the Panthers were playing just down the street at Bank of America Stadium), but a woman walking by did pause and take a picture. “Piano Parking,” she said. “That’s interesting. That’s creative.”
Cole actually saw a guy sit down at the piano and play on Third Street last week. “He was just a regular guy,” Cole said.
That’s exactly the kind of engagement CCCP is looking for — random passersby plunking down on the stools to make some music.
“What we want people to do is have fun out there,” Cole said. “It’s supposed to be whimsical and we hope people sit down … and get out there and give it a shot, have fun.”
While the pianos won’t last too long due to wear from weather, they are expected to be out on the town until the end of October. And they do have covers for protection at night — and when the pianos are not in use.
“Piano Parking Charlotte is our way of supporting the everyday musicians who live and work among us,” said Robert Krumbine, chief creative officer and senior vice president of events at Charlotte Center City Partners, in a press release.
They can be found at Carolina Theater (6th and Tryon streets), Blumenthal Performing Arts (5th and Tryon streets), Polk Park (Trade and Tryon Streets), Wells Fargo (3rd and Tryon streets), St. Peter’s Catholic Church (Levine Avenue and Tryon Street) and the Government Center Plaza (4th and Davidson streets). And images can be shared on social media with the hashtag #PianoParkingCLT.
As a former band/orchestra geek, I enjoyed sinking onto the teal-and-purple stool and placing my fingers on the keys. And I relished this newfound permission to make noise.
Let’s make some music.
Photos: Katie Toussaint, CCCP