If you've been in Los Angeles over the last three weeks you may have noticed the unexpected presence of decorated pianos in landmark areas around the city. From the Santa Monica Pier to Union Station in downtown, thirty pianos have been placed in public spaces as part of a traveling art installation entitled Play Me, I'm Yours. The installation, the brainchild of British artist Luke Jerram, has been on a world tour since 2008 but only just arrived in our city in the beginning of April — and are only here for another week until they move on to their next home in Salt Lake City, Utah, followed by stops in London and Paris over the summer and a wintertime visit to Puerto Rico.
In fact these pianos have been everywhere. Checking out the Play Me, I'm Yours website is like taking a virtual trip around the world. The site has been integrated with social media /div> to allow users to upload photos, videos, and other media tracking the pianos' progress around the world. Cities as diverse as Geneva, Sydney, and Austin, Texas have played host to the installation.
Here's a 2011 photo of a piano in London. What a view!
We had an opportunity to check out a few of the pianos around L.A., like this one in Chinatown. They've been designed and decorated by local artists and community members, so each piano is unique and suited to its location.
This mermaid piano, currently holding court at the Music Center of Los Angeles, was designed by Avenue 50 Studio, a Highland Park based organization that presents work by Chicano artists.
Speaking as locals, the piano installation reads almost like a hip city guide to Los Angeles. Using only the provided map, piano hunters can spend the day going from the beach to the heart of the city and over the mountains into the valley, taking in examples of L.A.'s unique architecture, rich history, and varied communities along the way.
You'll probably end up visiting areas of Los Angeles that you might normally avoid, like tourist-packed Hollywood Boulevard or the overlooked South Bay city of Torrance. Even locals can learn something new about their city by chasing down these traveling pianos.
According to the website, the pianos have attracted many "hidden pianists" who may not own their own instrument, but are happy to have an opportunity to pick out a tune for a public audience. When we were checking out the piano at Union Station, a little old woman showed up with sheet music to play some tunes. She was so talented that a saxophonist showed up, instrument in hand, for a random duet.
We love these traveling pianos for how they use art, music, and travel to bring together communities and spotlight the unique character of each city. We'll be following their progress as they head off to Salt Lake City and we'll be sure to note exactly where the pianos have been placed in each city since the installation offers an amazing opportunity to discover cool places everywhere they go. Check out the latest photos and see the list of all the piano's locations right here. MT