New Town SquareMiami, FL
As thousands of people flocked to Art Basel Miami Beach Dec. 1-4 to check out the newest work generating buzz in art circles and beyond, a group of Miami-based artists used music to focus attention on the local art scene.
Their project: Pop-Up Miami Piano 2011.
Eleven pianos, donated by Steinway Piano Gallery of Miami, were set up in public spaces throughout Miami-Dade County – including a spot outside The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, which is in the middle of a master planning process to ensure the arts remain the central force in its downtown neighborhood development.
Anyone itching to play “Chopsticks” or Christmas carols could indulge their musical passions at any of the pianos.
Pop-Up Miami Piano 2011 was the brainchild of Whitney Lykins and Isabella Acker, co-founders of The Black Key Group. They took some inspiration from Sing For Hope, which set up street pianos in New York City last summer. Sing for Hope mobilizes professional artists in volunteer programs.
Miami artists such as Miguel Paredes, Lebo and Trek Six decorated the pianos. Musicians such as Suenalo, Elastic Bond, Duran Blu and Raffa and Ranier performed at different spots throughout the week.
On Dec. 2, the piano was the main draw as dozens of people bought grilled cheese sandwiches, fish tacos and burgers and cupcakes during Food Truck Fridays, sponsored by the Arsht Center in its adjacent parking lot.
People honed in on ELEW, a pianist known for playing “rockjazz” in a lunge position. He also reaches inside the piano lid to pull at the strings directly.
The piano provided more eye candy to the lunchtime crowd: It was decorated with bold and curvaceous black lines, with splashes of teal, cobalt blue and white, by Raymond Adrian and Daniel Fila, known by his street name “Krave.” They called their design “Hear Colors.”
“We don’t feel the local scene is covered during Art Basel,” Krave said. Thanks to Pop-Up Miami Piano, “we’ve got local artists and musicians involved with art at a street level.”
After Art Basel, the pianos lived on as donations to local hospitals, schools and arts organizations.