Notes that flowed freely Saturday from the 12 “Keyed Up Kenosha” pianos located throughout downtown set the tone for the interactive, outdoor art exhibit that will be on display all summer.
“It’s nice to see people coming out, stopping to listen and meeting new people,” Josh Tylski, 25, said after playing Canon in D Major by Johann Pachelbel on a vibrantly painted and embellished upright piano by artist Shelbiee Arreguin outside the Sazzy B restaurant.
“Keyed Up Kenosha” is a collaborative project by Downtown Kenosha Inc., the city of Kenosha and the Kenosha News with major support from Uline. It kicked off in March with a reception. The public was invited to view the artists at work at the Kenosha News, which provided studio space, during a tour April 29.
The pianos were unveiled during Downtown Kenosha’s Second Saturday event.
“We came out specifically to see the pianos and hear some music,” said Pat Molette, of Kenosha, joined by her friend Cindy Kirkpatrick, of Pleasant Prairie. “Oh, I just love it. I think it will bring people downtown for sure.”
Some pianists were assigned to play between 4 and 6 p.m.; others were spontaneously moved to play.
“We just walked around and found a piano,” Sebastian Wegner, 15, said of his group of eight friends from Tremper and Indian Trail high schools.
Chris Rosmann played piano while other teens provided vocals.
It is that kind of enthusiasm sponsors hope will continue.
“The idea is for people to come out and just casually play them,” said Kris Kochman, community relations liaison for the city of Kenosha.
Jazlyn Williams, 8, of Kenosha, helped unveil a piano painted by Delise Evans, titled “A Rose is still a Rose,” at Veterans Memorial Park. Bailey Kate Millimaki, 15, from Pleasant Prairie, followed her, playing for a small group that included family and visitors with art walk maps in hand.
Gary Everett spent the better part of the day tuning each piano at its designated location.
“I started this morning at 7:15,” said Everett, who has been tuning pianos for 30 years.
By 1:30 p.m. he had tuned all but two. He said his favorite is one painted by artist Lynn A. Johnston, titled, “Mammoth Music — A Duet” that is located outside the Kenosha News.
He said he may tune them again before summer’s end.
A 13th piano, created by Scott Buell and called “Reclaimed Medley,” is located at the I-94 Visitor Information Center, at Highway 165 and the interstate, in Pleasant Prairie.
After the exhibit ends in mid-August, pianos will be auctioned to benefit future downtown events and promotions.