Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Play Me I'm Yours" in Boston

You see a lot of typical street art installation project (especially ones that involve blank animal statues that are hand painted by local artists and placed around cities) but this one is unique because it is so interactive. For a few weeks about 70 pianos are placed all around the city of Boston, with each one uniquely decorated or painted. So far I've only been able to spot a few and the ones I saw were mostly uprights, except for this grand outside the MFA.

The first time I came up on it I decided to just sit there nearby and observe. I noticed that people were either playing or stopping to listen...but it didn't matter which one they were engaged in, the point was that everyone was engaged, and that was what made this different than your typical street art installations that you tend to see. And I was surprised to find that more random people on the street are able to play piano than you would think. This piano was not too far from the New England Conservatory, so of course you'd get the occasional student prodigy sitting down to play a few tunes, but for the most part it was just average joes and janes of all ages sitting down to play that one or two songs that they knew. People played Fur Elise, and people played Paul McCartney songs...people played and people listened. And people really enjoyed listening too. I mean after all, we see things like guitars, saxes, violins, and drums played on buckets outdoors all the often has anyone ever seen a full sized piano just sitting on a sidewalk?

I did sit down to play a few times since I come to the MFA frequently, though it'd been a while since I'd been around a piano on a regular basis. Played my favorite Chopin nocturne, the one in E flat and played what I still know of Maple Leaf Rag. It's too bad this isn't an annual thing, I doubt anyone would have any complaints if it were.

Been going to Drawing in the Galleries a lot lately, have a lot of sketches I need to scan for my records. Still working on big sheets of paper with the broad side of a pencil...I think this was a 5 minute pose if I remember correctly. As you can see I totally abandoned my first gesture, just didn't get the right feeling, so I started another one right next to it. Turns out they look kind of cool next to each other now.

Usually before a sketch session I'll walk around the museum to get inspired by something. I stumbled into this little exhibit in the American Wing of a show of works by an artist named Lois Mailou Jones, who I'd never heard of. Born in 1905 and trained at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (back when they actually still taught traditional art) she apparently did all kinds of art ranging from intricate pattern design to oil painting and even commercial book illustration, all of which were on display. Excellent work. There were a couple charcoal portraits she had done long ago hanging in the exhibit, below was my favorite one.

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