Merced County Times Newspaper
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Piano art on Main Street might hold keys to downtown success


The Merced Multicultural Arts Center (MAC) is looking for pianos and making a call for local artists to help transform the large musical instruments into public art displays.

The initiative — called “Pianos for Merced” — is expected to entice the community to celebrate local art and culture, and also to create music in open areas and building interiors all over downtown Merced.

“What we are really trying to do is unify our downtown area, and create a welcoming space for everyone to enjoy these pianos,” said Colton Dennis, executive director of the MAC. “The really cool thing about it is the pairing of the artist to the piano. The artistic talent that we have here in Merced is amazing.”

Every piano — offered up as a canvas, if you will — is expected to tell a different story or reflect on a different topic relating to Merced community. The aim of the pianos, besides allowing residents the opportunity to perform on them, is to showcase the creativity of Merced as well as the people and communities who make up the city.

“The history and future of arts and culture in Merced is an idea we have for our theme in regards to the artwork done on the pianos,” Dennis explained. “We want to use that as a platform of inspiration so the artist can begin creating their piece.”

Whether it be through photography, painting, or any other form of artwork, ‘Pianos for Merced’ hopes to revitalize Downtown Merced through music and art. The pianos will be stationed throughout the Main Street area — in open spaces, inside local businesses, and inside Bob Hart Square.

Artists will have to submit a mockup idea or proposal before they are approved to decorate the piano. The plan is also to compensate the artists for their creativity and work through private donors.

Although the quarantine has halted many community gatherings, Barbara Piagari, director of Sales and Marketing for the El Capitan Hotel, Mainzer Theater, and Tioga Luxury Apartments believes ‘Pianos for Merced’ will get the ball rolling as residents begin socializing again.

“As we all start emerging from our homes, we want to support local businesses and artists,” she told the Times. “We want our artists to submit a short story telling us why they want to be in the inaugural round of ‘Pianos for Merced.’ We want to make the community more beautiful, and appealing.”

Painters, photographers, students, and residents at any art level are welcome to submit an art proposal that will then be subject to review. Meanwhile, a call for piano donations is being put into effect. Organizers say it’s a perfect opportunity to upcycle any piano that may be collecting dust and taking up space in a garage. Donated pianos must be upright and in working condition. Piano donations will be picked up at no cost to the donor.

Near the ending mark of the customization of the first round of pianos, a celebration will be held at Bob Hart Square where residents can interact and see the finishing touches being added to the pianos.

Finally, it should be noted that “Pianos for Merced” is an idea that models a successful community effort in Fort Collins, Colorado, that was called “Pianos about Town.” The later program was initiated by the Bohemian Foundation and managed through the city government at Fort Collins, and the Downtown Development Authority.

To submit a proposal or donate a piano, you can use the following online link: For more information regarding submissions, reach out to the Merced Arts Council by email: [email protected]

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