August 20, 2013

‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ In Omaha

A brightly colored piano sits in a public space. No one’s around. Would you play it?

Lori Elliott-Bartles decorated this piano, which will be placed at the south stairs of Memorial Park Aug. 24 through Sept. 8.

Lori Elliott-Bartles decorated this piano, which will be placed at the south stairs of Memorial Park Aug. 24 through Sept. 8.

A global phenomenon is coming to Omaha – “Play Me, I’m Yours,” an artwork that originated in Great Britain. Simply, decorated pianos pop up around a city, inviting the public to play. Omaha Creative Institute presents “Play Me, I’m Yours” this Saturday through Sept. 8 at 10 locations around the Omaha metro area. Local artists decorated the pianos, partnering with art organizations and university departments in the area.

Check out the interactive map here to see where they will be.

Luckily, one of pianos is going to be set up at a park my family likes to visit frequently: Memorial Park.

This beauty.

Lori Elliott-Bartles  and her piano.

Lori Elliott-Bartles and her piano.

Lori Elliott-Bartle, in partnership with Hot Shops Art Center, decorated it. If you’re curious about the process, she blogged about it here.

She and storyteller Rita Paskowitz will host two story- and song-sharing events at the Memorial Park piano (look for it by the south stairs). The first is this Saturday at 7 p.m. (next is Sept. 7, also at 7 p.m.). They’ll talk briefly about the project, and Lori will talk about the piano she painted, and then the night goes to storytelling in one form or another.

“We invite people to share their stories about music, pianos in particular, and about Memorial Park,” Lori said.

People will also be invited to write a word or two on a paper leaf about the stories they shared – the leaves will be collected and put on trellis to “grow” on the piano.

According to Rita:

“Everyone has a response to music…

And most of us…

Have had some kind of experience…

With a piano –

Whether it was picking out…

“Chopsticks”…

With two fingers…

Or conquering a concerto…

For a recital…

Praying not to embarrass…

Our entire family…

In a public setting.

And –

Most everyone growing up…

And/or living in our fair city….

Has a story about Memorial Park –

Sledding down that long…

Long hill…

On a Snow Day…

And trudging back…

To the top….

To make another run…

Or driving around the circle…

The night after getting…

A driver’s license…

To check out…

The eligible members…

Of the opposite sex.

So our plan…

Is to encourage the sharing..

Of stories and song –

Turning strangers into community…

Over a piano…

In a park…

In the middle of Omaha, Nebraska.”

(She’s a storyteller, can’t you tell?)

Who knows where the night or the paper leaves will go? They may inspire stories or poems, or a project down the road. Lori isn’t sure how things will play out.

Lori Elliott-Bartles' colorful piano.

Lori Elliott-Bartles’ colorful piano.

Opera Omaha’s sponsored piano will be at the gazebo at Rockbrook Village at about 108th and Center. The piano is the result of a collaboration by artists at Hot Shops led by Paula Wallace and a team of artists from Hot Shops – notice the Cinderella theme going on for the opera that will be presented next April.

Watch this awesome video with time lapse footage of its creation – http://www.vimeo.com/72153792.

UPDATE: Opera Omaha will bringing its music director J Gawf and a soloist Karina Brazas to Rockbrook to perform Aug. 30 from 6 to 6:30 p.m. starting at 5:30 p.m.

A team creation, this piano can be found at Rockbrook Village Gazebo Aug. 24 through Sept. 8.

A team creation, this piano can be found at Rockbrook Village Gazebo Aug. 24 through Sept. 8.

According to Betsye Paragas, director of community relations for Opera Omaha, the company “will be celebrating the opening day of Creative Week in Omaha with this performance, which is offered free of charge to the public.”

Another event I heard about connected to the pianos will be a public sing-along on Thursday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. The Joslyn Art Museum, along with A People’s Choir, will hold the free event at the base of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. The piano at the bridge was decorated by students at the Teen Alternative Art Camp.

There will likely be more, so stay tuned!

I asked some of the contributors if they can’t resist playing a song on a sitting piano. Lori played me a song and while she swears she’s forgotten notes, I never noticed. I asked Rita if she’d play, and she make sure no one was around before playing “Catch a Falling Star And Put It in your Pocket.”

I took piano for about three minutes before the teacher scared me away. Still, I think I’ll bust out some “Chopsticks” when I pass by one of the 10 around town. Lord knows my kids are going to bang on the keys as well.

How about you? Are you excited to play one of these pianos?

Comments

  1. We have a bunch of piano players in our house that would LOVE to see this! And my oldest would definitely not hesitate playing in public (especially since he has several pieces of memorized). Maybe we will have to make a point of coming there again soon! Loved the story and all of the great pictures! Thanks for sharing!

  2. What an idea! Any programs or projects that bring Omaha closer together as a community gets our support. Thanks for sharing this!

Trackbacks

  1. […] found out about this fun event from my blogging friend’s website last summer  (Oh, My! Omaha!: Play Me, I’m Yours).  Since we had recently made a trip to Omaha and had a crowded schedule, I was disappointed when […]

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