Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Public Pianos of Sing For Hope: Jessica Browne-White in Greeley Square

Sing for Hope Piano in Greeley Square by Jessica Browne-White

For a few more days, the five boroughs will play host to the third incarnation of a delightful public art project imagined by Sing for Hope, a nonprofit established to mobilize artists as agents of change in communities in need. Through Sunday, 88 pianos--each transformed by a different artist--are enlivening streets, parks, plazas and sidewalks throughout the city. Once the citywide exhibition runs its course, the pianos will find permanent homes in an assortment of schools, community centers and healthcare facilities. A map of pianos can be found on the organization's website. Take a look and take a walk--you never know when you might catch lightning in a bottle. Passersby of all stripes are prone to take a seat and take a shot--students, children, tourists. Anthony Tommasini, the New York Times' classical music critic, took it upon himself to sample several around the city, documenting his experiences in this enjoyable piece (with accompanying video) a few days ago.

Passing through Greeley Square (near Macy's) yesterday, I caught a glimpse of one of the pianos in action, witnessing the tail end of a performance by what appeared to be a group of Sing for Hope volunteers.

Today I returned with a sack lunch to examine Jessica Browne-White's vibrant contribution to the public art project. The three-dimensional painted "dreamscape" incorporates several faces cast from participants in an after-school Shakespeare program in Brooklyn. The figures swim across and emerge from the composition, equal parts optimism and despair, depending on one's frame of mind--or perhaps dependent on whether the piece stands in stoic isolation or surrounded by gleeful teenagers. A closer look at Browne-White's creation...

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