Mark Christman, communications manager for the University City District, said the pianos will be tuned regularly and locked down so there won’t be a chance of seeing anyone hurriedly pushing an artistically decorated piano down Walnut Street. Each piano will be available for anyone to play from dawn till dusk (they’ll be locked up at night). And each has a cover to protect it.
"These things are pretty remarkable. From the playful to the highly conceptual to very sculptural, some of them are pretty far out," Christman said about the designs. "They’re pianos, of course, but they look slightly different from the pianos you grew up with."
Joe Boruchow, an artist known for his meticulous black-and-white paper cutouts, was attracted to the Heart & Soul project because of its temporary nature. "Part of the inspiration was knowing that it wasn’t going to be there for very long," Boruchow said. "The ephemeral qualities of art and music which worked well with my work."
Boruchow’s work was inspired by early American furniture design, with columns on the sides and a Fountain of Youth scene on the back. "I can’t wait to hear what someone plays," said Boruchow, who is a musician himself. "If I played piano, I’d want one that looked like mine."
Lessner created his work in the style of a 1980s sports car, partly in homage to his 6-year-old cousin who takes piano lessons. "I look at him on this sterile upright piano, which is an intimidating instrument. I was thinking a bright-red sports car might make it funner for a 6-year-old."
Christman is not only excited by what people play on the piano, but what others bring to the project as well. "West Philly is a music neighborhood, so I’m particularly interested in seeing pop-up concerts happening on all of these pianos. I’m excited not only for pianists, but for their buddies with guitars and percussionists organizing impromptu concerts. I think that’s really where the magic is going to come from." n
Opening party, The Porch at 30th Street Station, 30th and Market streets, 6 p.m. Wednesday, free, universitycity.org.
Contact Molly Eichel at 215-854-5909 or email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @mollyeichel. Read her blog posts at philly.com/entertainment.