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Rachel Belle

Pianos in the Parks Brings Two Seattle Staples Together: Music & the Outdoors

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One of the pianos, freshly painted, before being moved outside to a park. (Photo courtesy of Pianos in the Parks) | Zoom
At Seattle Center, just outside the Armory building, Queen Anne kids, Nathan and Libby, tinker around on a piano.

"When I first saw it, I thought it looked really beautiful because the water colors looked very pretty," Libby said.

The piano has been transformed into a work of art.

"It was Seattle painted by the water at nighttime with Mount Rainier in the background," Nathan explained the piano's painted design. "Really amazing how they do this. I love the art, just love the art."

This piano is one of 20 planted in various Seattle and King County parks for a month-long exhibit called Pianos in the Parks and anyone and everyone is encouraged to sit down and play.

"Seattle is about music, about open space, about parks. This is a unique way of fusing that all together," said KEXP's executive director Tom Mara, a sponsor of Pianos in Parks. "It's great for kids and great for the eco-system of Seattle."

Laird Norton Wealth Management came up with the idea and CEO Robert Moser says it's not a 'look don't touch' situation.

"No, no, no, that's why they're painted that way. They're much more approachable than a formal mahogany piano."

The pianos were painted by students and instructors at Seattle's Gage Academy of Art.

"There's a piano that looks like a robot, there's a piano that looks like the Piano Man," Robert said. "There's one piano that is completely covered in moss. There are several pianos that were specifically designed to blend into the parks and look like a park setting."

The hope is to reacquaint locals with their parks, to give them a new reason to get outside, and perhaps spark a little piano interest.

"These were probably under-loved and underused pianos," Robert said. "Unfortunately, we don't even talk about playing pianos anymore, we talk about playing keyboards. So there are a lot of unhappy, unused, unloved pianos around. These we were able to essentially give them a second life, paint them, put them in parks. They'll probably get played more in the next month than they were in their entire life. In the end, they'll be auctioned off so they'll actually find a home."

The pianos will be outside at various parks until August 17th. You're encouraged to videotape your Pianos in the Parks performances and upload them to this Facebook page. The video with the most likes will get to perform at the final KEXP & Seattle Center Concerts at the Mural.

Rachel Belle, Ron and Don Show Reporter
Rachel Belle is a feature contributor and personality on The Ron & Don Show on KIRO Radio (weekdays 3-7pm), and host of Ring My Belle Weekends (Sundays at 3pm).
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Ring My Belle on KIRO Radio
Tune in to KIRO Radio on Sundays at 3pm for Ring my Belle with Rachel Belle.

Who is Rachel Belle?
Rachel Belle's "Ring My Belle" segment airs Monday-Friday on The Ron & Don Show at 4:37pm and 6:37pm. You can hear "Ring My Belle Weekends" Saturdays at 5:00pm Sundays at 3:00pm. Rachel is a northern California native who loves anything and everything culinary, playing Scrabble, petting cats and performing improv.

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