Old pianos to get new life downtown

ARTIST GREG JUSTUS will paint an upright piano on Friday in Latham Courtyard during the first Rally in the Alley of the season. The piano will remain in the courtyard and will be the first of several pianos to be painted by local artists for the Tunes Around Town project. The project is being organized by the Findlay Kiwanis, Downtown Findlay and the Arts Partnership. (Photo provided to The Courier)

ARTIST GREG JUSTUS will paint an upright piano on Friday in Latham Courtyard during the first Rally in the Alley of the season. The piano will remain in the courtyard and will be the first of several pianos to be painted by local artists for the Tunes Around Town project. The project is being organized by the Findlay Kiwanis, Downtown Findlay and the Arts Partnership. (Photo provided to The Courier)

The Findlay Kiwanis, Downtown Findlay and the Arts Partnership are joining together to beautify downtown Findlay, both aesthetically and musically, with a project called Tunes About Town.

Upright pianos will be painted by area artists and stationed in accessible areas throughout downtown Findlay. Anyone is welcome to play the pianos, which will be secured and have tarps to protect them from the elements.

Artist Greg Justus will paint the first piano on Friday in Latham Courtyard, starting in mid-afternoon and finishing up during the season’s first Rally in the Alley.

The piano will remain in the courtyard.

Kiwanian Grant Russel, who is chairing the project, said the Findlay Kiwanis Club provided the seed money to get the project started, allowing for the purchase of a couple of very well used pianos and an artist’s fee.

Russel said there are two more pianos ready to be painted, and artists who have expressed a willingness to paint them. When and where depends on how well the Latham Courtyard piano is received, he said.

He admitted that the pianos are “not in the greatest shape” so they may be a little out of tune. They will remain outside through the seasons as long as they hold up.

Justus received a fine arts degree from Kent State University. He won first place in the fine art category at Toledo’s Old West End Festival in 2013 and two of his paintings were accepted into the Toledo Art Museum’s “Naturally Toledo” exhibit this year. He donates his talents to assist several nonprofit organizations. Along with teaching painting classes, he shows regularly at businesses and galleries in Findlay and Toledo while participating in outdoor shows.

The Tunes About Town project is not a fundraiser, Russel said, and is just intended to be “kooky and wacky and kind of fun,” and a good way to give old pianos new life, provide exposure for area artists and provide an opportunity to play and listen to music outdoors.

Similar projects include the Play Me I’m Yours project which began in 2008 and has placed pianos in 46 cities throughout the world and enjoyed by over 6 million people.

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