Keys in the City, a popular public art program combing music and visual arts, may be coming to Charlotte this summer. Keys in the City places vibrantly decorated, and fully functioning, pianos in public spaces where they can inspire both visually and musically. The program is well-known throughout Mid-Michigan, and many people have been delighted by the unexpected music and lively visual decoration.
The pianos are placed in public spaces where everyone is invited to play them. Whether it’s a child plunking out the notes from their first piano lesson, or an adult with professional chops, Keys in the City brings music to the streets.
Local project organizers are looking to the community for help on this project in a few unique ways. First and foremost, the project needs a piano.
The ideal piano is sitting in someone’s front room or on their back porch right now. It’s a vertical piano of ‘studio’ or ‘upright’ size (at least 44 inches tall), it is in working condition (if not in tune), and it is looking for a new home. If you think you have this piano and would like to donate it to this project, please let us know by contacting Travis Silvas at The County Journal newspaper at (517) 543-1099.
Once obtained, the piano will be moved to Windwalker Art Gallery downtown, where an artist will spend a few weeks working to transform it visually. It will later be tuned and installed in a public space.
Maybe your grandmother’s piano is gathering dust and you would like to see it have a second life. If so, please give us a call. We will send a pianist to evaluate the piano, and if chosen, we will also handle the responsibility of moving it to the project location.
Like our ideal piano, the ideal visual artist is also already here in Charlotte. Keys in the City is seeking a local artist willing to paint, decorate or otherwise transform the piano into a compelling piece of visual art. Artists who reside in the Charlotte Public Schools district will be asked to submit their ideas to the committee for a blind evaluation process, ensuring all artists have an equal chance. The work will take place in whole or in part during the Celebrate Charlotte Festival.
Keys in the City is also looking for small donations to help offset the cost of this project —  if you are not a musician or visual artist, perhaps you would like to support this project as a patron. You can donate to the project also by contacting Travis Silvas at The County Journal. It is expected that the entire project will cost approximately $550. Organizers will also be seeking a couple public spaces downtown where the piano can be located.

Article submitted by the City of Charlotte Public Art Committee.