Art Pianos for All undergoes some key changes
March 20, 2015
Three years ago, Mark Maziarz and Alison Butz started Art Pianos for All, a public art installation that placed artist-refurbished pianos in accessible areas throughout Summit County.
The idea was inspired by a similar project in Colorado, where the pianos could be played by the public anytime for free.
Maziarz now oversees the whole project and the organization has shifted the way it operates.
Earlier this year, it looked as if Art Pianos for All wasn’t going to continue, according to Maziarz.
"I originally had fiscal sponsorship by the Park City Community Foundation, which allowed me to run as a 501c-3 nonprofit, but this was always supposed to be a temporary project, and they decided to cut it sooner than originally planned," Maziarz explained to The Park Record. "So, I switched operating as a nonprofit to an LLC (limited liability company), which means I’m not allowed to get donations from the public any more.
"Instead, I’m contracting with Summit County and Park City to continue the project," he said. "I’m cutting down on the pianos a little bit, but they are paying me to take care of them every year. I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue because it is a lot of work, but I decided to do it because I think it’s a cool project."
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So far Maziarz has placed pianos at:
One has also been placed at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts and the proposed artist is Hunter Metcalf.
Another, at the Newpark Hotel at Kimball Junction, has just been completed by Nathan S. Florence, a Salt Lake City-based artist and filmmaker who teachers art at Weilenmann School of Discovery.
His project consisted of covering the piano with prints made of an oil painting he recently finished.
"I started on the project several months ago when Mark and I started talking about ideas," Florence said during an interview with The Park Record at the Newpark Hotel. "We were going back and forth trying to figure this out. The idea initially came from an oil painting that I did which is pretty good sized."
Florence originally wanted to glue a photograph of the painting onto the piano, but ran into logistical problems concerning the photograph size.
"The original is about 50 inches wide and the piano is larger, so I decided to photograph the painting in sections and apply it piece-by-piece in sort of a David Hockney style," he said. "As I applied the pieces, I really loved how the sections worked."
Florence did the same thing on back of the piano, and found he had to improvise.
"I first thought of the back after I had printed everything and I had printed everything twice to make sure I had enough pieces to cover the piano," he said. "When I got to the back, I put the pieces together and made a totally different landscape. So, in a sense, I made a new picture with my painting. It was a fun process.
"It’s been this ongoing thing, because initially, I had trouble figuring out how to get the printing done," Florence said. "Eventually, I went to Hudson Printing in Salt Lake City and they used their big Indigo printer and helped me get all of these pages printed."
The images are printed onto 100-pound gloss paper, and applying the sections gives the piano this sort of contemporary, but antique feel, Florence said.
"Then I thought I would highlight the piano frame with a kind of gold-leaf idea," he said. "Since this is such an old piano, I thought that a satin would work and I do like how it pops out. I’m working with that and I will cover it all with an acrylic varnish to seal it."
Artistically refurbishing an old piano falls into the type of project Florence enjoys.
"As an artist, I’m interested in various materials and different surfaces, so there is an ongoing experimentation in my work," he said. "I’ve done sculptures like a miniature golf hole for the Museum of Contemporary Art a few years ago. I have covered mannequins with cloth and things like that.
"So, doing this piano is, in a weird way, perfectly in line with the different projects I do," Florence said, laughing. "This is another opportunity to put art on stuff, but in a completely different way. There is always that anticipation that you feel it’s going to work one way and then you realize it won’t."
Maziarz had known about Florence through Weilenmann.
"My daughter Daisy goes to school there and I had always liked his work," Maziarz said.
Then a mutual friend, Katharine Wang, executive director of the Park City Film Series, introduced them.
"She sent me a link to Nathan’s website and I checked it out and saw how cool his works were," Maziarz said. "This was right around the time when I started Art Pianos for All."
Maziarz had talked with Florence about doing a piano for quite a while.
"I have been busy working on film and then just got into Modern West Fine Art, an amazing new space in Salt Lake City, so I have a show coming up in November," Florence said. "So Mark and I thought if we don’t start the piano now, it won’t happen for a while, and that lit a fire under us."
Newpark is the perfect place for a piano, Maziarz said.
"I’m not sure if it will be outside or inside the hotel, but wherever they place it, it will be great because they have been such a great support," he said.
"I’ve had many people tell me that they hang out here all summer and they will play," Florence said.
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