Art plays art
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 04:15 pm
Fall fashions are in and the old upright pianos are back in style. So get your groove on and get ready to tickle the ivories – with a twist.
During StArts Fest at the end of September three custom-designed pianos will be spread throughout St. Albert’s downtown core to create the first of its kind interactive exhibit in the city.
Young and old will be invited to play on the redesigned pianos during the festival, a move organizers hope will stimulate fresh interest in the arts.
Dubbed Keys for the City, this debut venture is completely novel in that three local visual artists are painting, sculpting and personalizing the street pianos. Located in public venues the artists are inviting the residents to observe the art in progress.
The St. Albert Cultivates the Arts committee, organizers for StArts Fest, have selected painter Dixie Orriss, mosaic devotee Helen Rogers and sculptor Daniel Evans to inject their imagination and creativity onto the pianos.
Orriss, long inspired by the dark works of Vincent Van Gogh, is painting a piano in St. Albert Place. Titled Play It Again, Vincent Orriss is adapting six of the masters’ paintings onto the piano and bench with the same palette of vibrant colours and bold strokes. Look for a starry night, a portrait, irises and a wheat field with crows.
“He was interesting in his life and how he struggled. He’s popular now but at the time, they thought he was crazy. He had bipolar and had trouble with friendships and people pushed him away. He was so excessive,” Orriss explains.
Rogers, situated at the Enjoy Centre, also celebrates Van Gogh. But through her love of mixed media mosaics she has created Van Gogh’s Garden, a light whimsical composition of sunflowers, dragonflies, butterflies, ladybugs, more flowers and foliage.
Borrowing from the greats, Rogers is a disciple of Niki de Saint Phalle’s Queen Califia’s Magic Circle, a sculpture garden in Escondido, California and Antoni Gaudi’s Park Güell, a housing project in Barcelona.
“I like things that are a bit quirky, a little bit different. I like something a little bit off,” Rogers explains.
She has glued stained glass, glass tiles, glass beads, small rocks, jacaranda seeds and mirrors to her piano.
“When people walk by, it reflects the colours they are wearing and it becomes part of the montage. It’s almost interactive on its own.”
And finally, Evans has parked his tools at St. Albert Centre to create Topos, a narrative sculpture of St. Albert’s historical landmarks. His collage-like assembly includes miniature buildings of two grain elevators, a water tower, Father Lacombe Chapel, the Little White Schoolhouse and the clock tower.
“I want to explore the idea of community and identity and how it relates to both the physical space of the city and the individual interactions within,” says the Sturgeon County resident, who holds a master’s in design from North Wales School of Art and Design.
After attaching fibreboard to the piano, Evans cuts sheets of polystyrene and fashions the buildings to scale.
“I’m hoping it inspires people to tell stories to me, to others, to their family. I hope it sparks dialogue and gets people to remember other things.”
All three artists are encouraging the public to come down and view the unfinished projects and gradually witness their completion. They will be at their respective locations until the end of the week.
As Rogers puts it, “It’s an idea where this is art not just to be looked at, but played. And in St. Albert, we need to get lots of art out there. We need to fill the city with art.”