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'Play Me, I'm Yours' looks like a hit after one day on public display

By Andrew Lopez
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012, at 08:44AM
Andrew Lopez

The piano at L.A. Live.



"Play Me, I'm Yours," a public art installation of 30 pianos set up throughout Los Angeles kicked off its first official day Thursday.

All the pianos are decorated, coated for rain resistance and set out in public spaces to encourage anyone and everyone to play.

The project is hosted by the L.A. Chamber Orchestra (LACO) with British artist Luke Jerram and runs until May 3. Organizers hope that the public will enjoy and express themselves at each of the uniquely designed pianos.

Ten of these pianos are scattered throughout DTLA, and Blogdowntown visited a few of them on their inaugural day to see who was at the keys.

L.A. LIVE

Alexander Mihaylovich

Alexander Mihaylovich was sitting near the piano at L.A. Live Thursday afternoon as a few passersby doodled on the piano. He was encouraging others to play it, and for good reason:

He designed it.

It took about 3 weeks and 15-hour workdays, but it has been a great experience, he said.

“I’m totally exhausted,” he said with a laugh. “When the piano movers came to take it out of my studio I was a little sad.”

Though his design was one of the most detailed and extravagant of the day, Mihaylovich did admit it wasn’t the easiest project to work on due to strict guidelines set in place so not to alter its playability.

“Basically you have to work with the form that’s in front of you,” he explained. “There’s only so much you can do with it.”

Still, he and everyone else who stepped up to the piano seemed to love the idea of the project.

“Inviting everyone to put their hands on a piano, you don’t get to do that everyday,” Mihaylovich said.


EL PUEBLO HISTORICAL MONUMENT

Oscar Arturo

Arturo said through a translator that he decided to give the piano near Olvera Street a try because he plays the accordion.

He played mostly scales, but people passing by were happy anyways.


CITY HALL

Randy Cracchiolo

Cracchiolo was listening to KUSC when he found out about the street pianos.

“I just heard about it on the news,” he said. “I thought I’d just have a little fun to see if I can play anything at all.”

“Obviously, I need lessons,” he joked.

Cracchiolo said he thinks the idea of “Play Me, I’m Yours” is a great idea because you never know who might find their way to the piano bench.

“You might find some new talent, you never know,” he said. “Good idea for a talent search.”

Elio Donauer

Having freshly arrived at Union Station on a trip to San Diego, Donauer and friends were exploring Downtown when he came across the piano at City Hall.

Having taught himself how to play three years ago, Donauer showed off his impressive skills to several bystanders who looked slightly confused, but smiling nonetheless.

Donauer agrees with just about everyone else blogdowntown spoke to, saying the project is a great idea.

“I love to just walk by and ‘Oh, there’s a piano,’” he said. “It’s relaxing.”


UNION STATION

Carolyn Burkey

Burkey, a resident of Porterville, Calif., found the piano after her train to San Diego was cancelled.

Being a piano teacher for about 40 years, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sit down and play while waiting for another train.

“It said ‘play me, I’m yours’ and I thought, OK,” she said. “When nobody was over here I decided to come over and just kind of tinker around.”

By the time she stepped off the bench, a few people had gathered and were clapping.

Kaeef Crowley

Kaeef, born Bob Crowley, Jr., stumbled upon the piano while passing through Union Station on the fly.

Having grown up his entire life admiring the piano and now playing music with the Creative Arts Ensemble, he decided to treat everyone with a jazz tune.

“I think it’s beautiful,” he said of the project after receiving a sincere applause from a small audience.

Crowley said he’s the son of accomplished jazz musician Bob Crowley, whose career included playing piano in “Big Momma” Thorton’s recording of “Hound Dog.” He hopes projects like this will help keep public interest in music and more specifically, jazz music.

“We want to never let it become an extinct art form,” he said. “God bless all the people who help support the arts.”


CHINATOWN CENTRAL PLAZA

Ian Ruiz

Ruiz was walking through Central Plaza with family when he found the installation.

He said he’s been playing piano for about six years, and he likes the community interaction with the project.

“It’s something for the public to enjoy,” he said.

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