Kevin Arthofer, middle center, and National Ability Center summer campers watch as a student glazes over a paper flower cutout on a piano placed at the NAC
Kevin Arthofer, middle center, and National Ability Center summer campers watch as a student glazes over a paper flower cutout on a piano placed at the NAC by Art Pianos for All. (Photos by Mark Maziarz)
Art Pianos for All, an art project headed by Mark Maziarz where decorated pianos are placed in accessible areas to be played and enjoyed by the public, is branching out again.

This time, a piano has been placed at the National Ability Center, a nonprofit organization that provides seasonal activities to build self-esteem, confidence and lifetime skills through seasonal sport, recreational and educational programs for people of all abilities.

The big difference between the NAC piano and the others that are located throughout Summit County, was that more than one person worked on decorating it.

The project was led by artist Kevin Arthofer and involved 30 NAC summer campers between the ages of 8 to 15.

A National Ability Camper gets hands-on instruction by artist Kevin Arthofer, right, for the most recent Art Pianos for All installation. (Photos by Mark
A National Ability Camper gets hands-on instruction by artist Kevin Arthofer, right, for the most recent Art Pianos for All installation. (Photos by Mark Maziarz)

Arthofer, who designed a series of laser cutouts to seal onto the piano, talked with Maziarz and NAC's Andrea Thompson, who is the camps and custom program supervisor, to see what he could do.

"They had some ideas in mind," Arthofer said during an interview with The Park Record. "They wanted the NAC logo and imagery of some of the activities they offer."

"I was excited that Kevin had the idea to have each of the campers to contribute in a way that each could be successful and end with a product that would be beautiful and have a story to it," Thompson said. "We talked about having the design that represented what we do here. Since we do things seasonally, we wanted something that reflected that.


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Arthofer took the idea one step further and incorporated winter and summer motifs by using cutouts of snowflakes and flowers.

"There is no paint involved, but there is a glaze that goes over the cutouts," Arthofer said. "We held three sessions to introduce them to this unique process."

Arthofer's goal was to work on translating a layout and concept into an actual piece of the art.

"We used some of my main drafts that I handed out to the campers and went from there," he said.

Kevin Arthofer, left shows a concept drawing of what he envisioned the new Art Pianos for All installation at the NAC should look like to summer campers.
Kevin Arthofer, left shows a concept drawing of what he envisioned the new Art Pianos for All installation at the NAC should look like to summer campers. (Photos by Mark Maziarz)
"We then identified which students or campers would place these flowers on the piano, and each student got to see the project come to fruition.

"This is the good thing about repetitive patterns," Arthofer said. "There was structure and I can provide some sort of creativity, but I didn't have to give everyone a paintbrush and let them go wild."

Arthofer guided where the pieces should go, and helped the campers smooth them out.

"There was still a good amount of problem-solving initiative with some of the campers to actually identify which piece to use and where to put it," he said. "Once one camper was able to do it, they could help the others.

"In a way, I was just facilitating the art and showing them how to identify how to do it," Arthofer said. "I showed them a drawing of the piano and showed them where the left corner and then showing them how the pattern would come up and around the piano."

Every camper did at least one piece.

"The campers were impacted by the project, because there were different types and lengths of abilities and attention spans," Arthofer said. "Sometimes one child could focus for a very long time enough to help others. Other children just sat and observed closely and learned to do things by themselves.

"There were still others who understood the layout process, but didn't have much interest in placing the flowers or glaze on the piano," he said. "Through all this, different types of skills were realized."

Arthofer, who has an engineering masters degree in hydrology, creates his own art through a complicated and technical process and the Art Pianos for All project helped introduce the campers to it.

"I facilitated problem solving in a group, making sure I get a handle on group dynamics," he said. "I formed group leaders and learned about those who documented and processed the project."

Arthofer took on the communicator and educator roles for the campers.

"I tried to give a hands-off approach," he said. "I would give them what they needed to succeed.

"I have a certain level of precision I like to see and try to make sure what the community had was an actual professional art piece created by community members who never thought they could do it," Arthofer said.

"The project was completely complementary to what we do at NAC," Thompson said. "Kevin would come during the climbing-wall periods and while the kids waited for their turn to climb, they were able to work as a group on the piano. That was important for the campers to be able to do something as a team, and not just individually."

For more information about Art Pianos for All, visit www.facebook.com/artpianosforall . For more information about the National Ability Center, visit www.discovernac.org . For more information about Kevin Arthofer, visit www.kevmiart.com .