‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ art installation returns, including pianos by eight Cambridge artists

Joe Kitsch works on his piano last month at the Innovation and Design Building in Boston. (Photo: Street Pianos)
Joe Kitsch works on his piano last month at the Innovation and Design Building in Boston. (Photo: Street Pianos)

The popular art installation “Play Me, I’m Yours” is back from today through Oct. 10, placing pianos available for use by anyone throughout Boston neighborhoods and at several locations in Cambridge: in Harvard Square on Brattle Plaza and at the Longy School of Music, and on the Science Center Plaza at Harvard University; in Central Square at Jill Brown-Rhone Park; in Kendall Square at North Plaza and Kendall Plaza; and in Porter Square at the Lunder Arts Center at Lesley University.

“After more than a half-million Bostonians participated in Street Pianos in 2013, we knew we wanted to bring back this citywide installation that activates public space and engages the public with the joy of live performance,” said Gary Dunning, president and executive director of the sponsoring Celebrity Series, in a press release. He called the installation conceived by U.K. public artist Luke Jerram a way to show “that the arts are for everyone and that all people should have the opportunity to participate.”

Among the 60 local artists working throughout August at the Innovation and Design Building in Boston were eight from Cambridge, including those by Lou Lim, an arts therapist and licensed mental health counselor with a master’s degree from Lesley University, whose handprint piano is at the Boston Public Library in Boston’s Copley Square; Skye Schulte, a painter, photographer and sculptor specializing in multi-sensory art whose rainbow heart piano is at near the Jamaica Pond boathouse in Jamaica Plain; and Tova Speter, an artist, art therapist and community muralist with a master’s degree from Lesley University, whose mirrored “Diva” piano is at the Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester at Savin Hill.

The Cambridge piano artists and locations:

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Amanda Baldi, of the Cambridge automation company Vecna Technologies, made a sound-activated papier mâché puppet that dances as passers-by play the piano she made with Michael Baier, placed on North Plaza at 300 Athenaeum St., Kendall Square.

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Emily Evans, a Cambridge professional modern dancer with companies and artists including Grant Jacoby & Dancers, Intimations Dance and Luminarium Dance (as well as a worker at local contemporary art museums and organizer of the community art festival Arlington Alive) made colorful abstract art of her piano in Central Square’s Jill Brown-Rhone Park.

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Sara Iwany, a recent Boston University grad (with a minor in visual arts) who lives in Allston and says she spends much of her free time on art, has a rich blue piano merging sea and sky amid Kendall Plaza at 315 Main St., Kendall Square.

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Joe Kitsch, a contemporary artist working with a wide variety of media – not to mention the community outreach coordinator for the Cambridge Art Association and a member of its board of directors – made his Brattle Plaza piano an ode to Bacon.

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Catherine Maldonado, a Web developer, designer and illustrator living in the Boston area, has painted a colorful scene – of a tuba player – on her piano set up at Harvard University’s Science Center Plaza. She worked on it with her little sister Grace, whom she mentors through Big Sisters of Boston.

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Julia Roth, an expressive artist, arts facilitator and coach in Cambridge with a master’s degree from Lesley University, blends her piano’s painted art with musical touches obvious (such as on the seat) and subtle (with musical notes etched into the eyes of the figure painted by the words “Play Me, I’m Yours.” Her piano is at Lesley’s Lunder Arts Center near Porter Square.

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Clara Wainwright, a Cambridge collage artist primarily making collaborative art quilts, as well as founder of the Great Boston Kite Festival in 1969, First Night in 1976 and the Faith Quilts Project in 2006, has a cloth-bedecked piano at Longy School of Music near Harvard Square.

“It is important … that Street Pianos Boston once again reflects and showcases the diversity of this city in as many ways as possible,” Dunning said. “We are working with talented artists of all ages and backgrounds, and partner organizations that range from the largest cultural institutions to small community organizations.”

After the artists’ weeks of work, the customized pianos were tuned up with by students and recent graduates from the North Bennet Street School, then moved to their locations by Allston Piano Moving. “The locations are in parks, plazas, near T stations and on sidewalks – all in locations where Bostonians from every neighborhood will encounter, listen and play the pianos,” Dunning said.

Each piano is hosted by a local partner who has committed to acting as a “piano buddy,” which includes covering the piano in bad weather, reporting damages and locking the keyboard at night during the two weeks of the installation.

More information is here.

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