Renee Mox Hall keyed up about Art Pianos for All project
Renee Mox Hall is a familiar face in the Park City arts scene.
Some know her as a singer with the Park City Singers or the Park City Treble Makers. Other know Mox Hall as a visual artist and owner of the Park City Colors Gallery that was once located in the former Park City Mall.
Mox Hall combined her two loves — music and art — these past couple of months when she was commissioned to create a new work by Art Pianos for All, a public art installation project headed by Mark Maziarz that places artist-refurbished pianos in accessible areas throughout Summit County.
The piano is on display at the Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch, and the location inspired the artist with her approach.
"My first idea was bookshelves, but then I thought that was too obvious," Mox Hall told The Park Record. "So, I thought I needed to be a little more original than that and came up with the idea of using quotes about music by famous authors. I felt that would combine the two disciplines of music and literature."
The quotes Mox Hall used are from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hans Christian Andersen, Thomas Carlyle, Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare.
"Two of those authors — Longfellow and Carlyle — were from the Victorian era, and each of their panels are painted to look like parchment that are bordered in turquoise, much like they did in Victorian literature," Mox Hall said. "They would make the pages look beautiful by doing an outline by pen and fill in the space with colors."
The artist did the lettering on the piano by hand with oil-paint pens that are similar to calligraphy pens.
"I used different fonts, and the back of the piano, at least to me, is the most attractive panel," she said. "That’s where I used the Thomas Carlyle quote, ‘Music is well said to be the speech of angels,’ and I have an angelic cherub playing the flute."
Working on a three-dimensional object is different than painting on a flat canvas and Mox Hall had to adjust her approach.
"It was one of the reasons why I was concerned about the lettering," she said. "I had to paint on a vertical surface and be successful and I was pleased that I could make that transition."
She was also concerned about what would and wouldn’t be seen, depending on how the piano would be displayed.
"I’m pleased because the way the library has angled the piano, people can see the back of it," she said.
Mox Hall didn’t paint on all of the piano’s surfaces.
"I actually restored a lot of the wood," she said. "The wood is really pretty and the keyboard is a little tight. So painting that area would have made it difficult to raise and lower the key cover."
This is the second piano Mox Hall has refurbished for Art Pianos for All. The first was done nearly five years ago and it can be seen and played at the Silver Star Cafe.
"That one was based on a painting that I had done a year prior," she said. "The painting showed notes coming out of the saxophone and the notes turned into birds.
"At the time, I think I still had my gallery, and looked at the painting and thought it would make an interesting piano," Mox Hall said. "So, I based the back of the tall, upright piano on the painting."
For both pianos, Mox Hall used house paint.
"I want the things to last," she said with a laugh. "I also coated it with two layers of Durathane sealant to deflect the UV rays and I used both high gloss and flat varnish."
Art Pianos for All’s Mark Maziarz said there are 10 existing refurbished pianos located throughout the county. (See accompanying list).
"It’s lasted longer than I thought and I’m pretty happy with it," Maziarz said. "My only funding, now, is coming from the Summit County Art Advisory Board and we have plans for one more piano to be painted after this, but that may change."
Maziarz’s biggest challenge is finding good locations to place a piano that could be played at all hours of the day and night.
"These places have to be accessible to the public and not interfere with anyone’s home life," he said. "They can’t be closer than 100 yards from someone’s home."
The list of the pianos include:
Maziarz is happy that Mox Hall’s new piano is at the Summit County Library.
"The library director, Daniel Compton, is so into it, and I’m so heartened that someone is taking so much pride in having a piano there," Maziarz said. "Those kinds of relationships are so important to me. We would love people who would like to display a piano to let us know."
Finding a perfect location is only one of the rewards of Maziarz’s labors.
"For every piano that we do, we hashtag it on social media and I love going to Instagram and randomly coming across one of our pianos," he said.
Maziarz recently posted a piano refurbished by Sally Neilson, which is at Miner’s Hospital.
"It’s a book of dragons and she put a quote over the keyboard that says, ‘Play keys to control monsters,’" he said. "Someone took a picture of it and put the quote and said ‘Love that these are still about.’ That kind of unsolicited pats on the back is why I do this. I come across those types of things every month or so and it means a lot to me."
For more information about Art Pianos for All, visit http://www.facebook.com/artpianosforall .
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