Editor’s note: Each week in the Get Out section, we will profile one of the artists involved in the “Keyed Up Kenosha” outdoor art project.
Downtown strolls will be vastly entertaining this summer if a dozen, one-of-a-kind pianos sound as good as they look.
Local artists spent two months transforming used, upright pianos into unique pieces of art as part of Downtown Kenosha Inc.’s “Keyed Up Kenosha, Piano Art Walk.” The project will be unveiled June 9 during next month’s Second Saturday celebration.
A dozen pianos will be placed at various downtown Kenosha locations and a 13th piano will reside at the Kenosha Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s I-94 Visitor Information Center, 10519 120th Ave. in Pleasant Prairie.
The decorated, weather-resistant pianos will be displayed through October, allowing musicians and aspiring musicians of all ages the opportunity to interact, mingle and perform. The pianos will eventually be auctioned off at a community event.
The artists were chosen based on their submitted rendering and invited to select a piano and plan their project. Over the next 13 weeks, the Kenosha News will take a closer look at each artist and his or her project.
Profession: High school art teacher at Christian Life
Piano theme: “Welcome to Kenosha”
Location: Rhode Center for the Arts, 514 56th St.
Sponsor/Host: Lakeside Players Inc.
Question: I’m sure decorating a piano isn’t the easiest art project. How were you able to come up with a theme and put it all together?
Answer: I’m working with two of my students on this project, Lydia Chavez and Kasey Cochran. They did all of the drawings and helped antique some of the maps. We wanted to commemorate and honor Kenosha and all its history. Kenosha has such a rich history. I don’t know if people realize that. We chose a Gremlin for obvious reasons. We included Mars Cheese Castle, old factories, the Rhode (Center for the Arts) and the courthouse.
Question: What were some of the materials you used in this project?
Answer: We used paper, old maps, paints and colored pencils. We covered the piano in a spar varnish to make sure it has a good coat and seal so it can hold up in the elements.
Question: What inspires or motivates you as an artist?
Answer: I really enjoy it. It’s relaxing and it helps to communicate visions and ideas you have. Through art, people become touched and inspired themselves. It’s an interesting means and way to communicate your ideas without actually being present.
Question: Is this similar to a lot of your other projects?
Answer: This is different. I do more abstract art, and I try to mix a lot of medias. In that regard, there are a lot of materials mixed here. I do a lot of graphics work as well.
Question: Where were some of the challenges of working on this particular piece of art?
Answer: Originally, we tried to find historic maps and we had a challenge finding them. We ended up taking maps from the Welcome Center and actually antiqued them so they look historic. We used coffee and tea and sanded them and dried them in the oven to give them that antique look and feel.
Question: What did you enjoy most about working on this project?
Answer: I enjoyed spending time with my students and getting to know them better. I enjoyed pushing myself. I always enjoy new challenges.
Question: Anything you would’ve done differently?
Answer: I’m not sure. I might’ve given myself more time.
Question: If only one song could forever be played on this piano, what would it be and why?
Answer: I think it would be “Brown-Eyed Girl” (by Van Morrison) because it has that nostalgic feel. This piano has such a nostalgic feel. I think they’d go hand-in-hand.