Play It Missoula! Downtown Pianos Delivered Friday, June 5

Three Play It Missoula! pianos will be delivered to Downtown locations this Friday, June 5 for First Friday festivities.  Dotz Piano, along with Downtown Missoula Partnership staff, will pick up pianos from local coffee shops and galleries where artists painted the pianos during April and May.  Each piano will be tuned and custom covers installed to protect the pianos that are located outdoors.  Delivery of the Downtown pianos will begin at 10:30am and move to each of the three seasonal outdoor locations. Two additional pianos are being placed in locations outside of Downtown Missoula prior to First Friday.

Play It Missoula! is a community project where pianos are placed throughout Downtown Missoula to showcase visual art, music and place-making efforts.  The project began in 2014 as a partnership between the Downtown Business Improvement District and the University of Montana Keyboard Society.  As the program grows, the goal continues to include the enhancement of Missoula’s sense of community and pride as people slow down to appreciate art, listen, play, and build community through music and stories.  The three pianos located in Downtown Missoula are funded by the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID), the Missoula Community Forum, Noah’s Fabrics, First Interstate Bank and numerous businesses and individuals.  The two additional pianos being placed outside of Downtown Missoula are funded by the Missoula Downtown Foundation (MDF).

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Photo by ©John Sieber.www.jpsphotos.net

“The pianos have really taken on a life of their own by helping Downtown Missoula create a novel and unique community story,” said Tim France, President of the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) Board of Trustees and owner of Worden’s Market.  “Last year’s North Higgins piano significantly helped change the dynamics of this location from a sidewalk alley-way with daily fist fights to a positive gathering spot for musicians and listeners alike.  Whether someone is a frequent Downtowner, a new visitor to Missoula, or someone who may be coming Downtown for the first time in a long time, the pianos provide a connection to community not found in many cities of our size.”

Friday, June 5 activities include picking up three pianos currently in three locations: The Dana Gallery (246 N. Higgins Ave.), E3Convergence Gallery (229 W. Main St.), and Le Petit Outre (129 S. 4th St. W.). Subsequent delivery of each piano to their Downtown locations for the summer months will follow.  Locations and general time of delivery include:

  • The Hip Strip – in front of the recent Hip Strip Mural installation located between Bathing Beauties and Betty’s Divine.  The piano, titled “Myrtle’s Stop,” was painted by Amber Flaherty (the same artist who created the Hip Strip Mural) will be delivered between 10:30am and 10:45am.
  • Bank Street Pocket Park – near the small water fountain next to Hunter Bay Coffee on Higgins Avenue.  The piano, titled “Ghosts,” was painted by Bayla Arietta with additional sponsorship by WGM Group, will be delivered between 10:45am and 11:00am.
  • North Higgins Ave. – near Worden’s Market’s parking lot.  The piano, titled “The Fox,” was painted by Luke Smith & Madeline Carr, and will be delivered between 11:15 and 11:30am.

People are invited to join in the debut of the pianos to their sidewalk locations by gathering at the first delivery location on the Hip Strip and walk to the other two locations.  First Friday attendees are encouraged to view and play the three newly-placed pianos as they enjoy Downtown Missoula from 5-8pm.  A couple of the artists will be with the piano they painted at various times during the evening.

Luke Smith, a Montana native and one of two artists who painted “The Fox” piano, believes it is important to be in a place where his art can thrive, and Missoula is the place for him to accomplish this.  He states, “I like to combine music and painting.  Missoula, the “Zoo,” is a wild place and that is why I chose the fox; an animal with an instrument is most likely playing something awesome.  I feel the paint on this piano will draw people in to play “like a fox” and will feed the creative vibes of the Zoo.”

In addition to the three outdoor Downtown locations, there are two Play It Missoula! painted pianos located outside of Downtown. One piano, titled “Real Good” and painted by Jack Metcalf, and currently located at Black Coffee Roasting Co. (525 E. Spruce St.), will be picked up Thursday, June 4 and delivered to the Broadway Bar & Grill Courtyard at the Broadway Inn (1609 W. Broadway).  The second piano was painted by Paul Tiede and is currently located at The Starving Artist Café & Gallery in the Larchmont Building (3020 S. Reserve St.).  These two pianos are funded by the Missoula Downtown Foundation (MDF) in an effort to connect people to Downtown and educate the community about the mission of the MDF.

“The Missoula Downtown Foundation is thrilled to support this worthy community project,”  said Colleen Rudio, President of the Missoula Downtown Foundation Board of Directors. The Play It Missoula! piano project reminds all of us that Downtown Missoula is a very special and unique place.  This project is in line with our mission to assist projects that support and promote the cultural, historical, and economic enhancement of Downtown Missoula.  The MDF values this opportunity to build a sense of community through the Play It Missoula! piano project, another lasting connection to the heart of Missoula.”

In addition to the main sponsors of this project, several community members have donated pianos, numerous local businesses and individuals have donated in-kind services and time including hosting pianos for the painting process, and artists have donated many hours of creative work and dedication, all pro-bono.   Several business contributions are worth mentioning, including Rollie Dotz & Dotz Piano for the second year of pick up and deliveries of the pianos; Jeff Stickney Piano Tuning & Repair for on-going maintenance services; Noah’s Fabrics for new custom covers; and First Interstate Bank for piano storage.  This project would not happen without the generosity of Missoula businesses and individuals working together to enhance the arts and culture qualities through a unique place-making effort for Missoula.

The team at the Downtown BID has created an on-line Play It Missoula! webpage describing the project, including a full listing of donors and a map showing piano locations, a photo, and artist information at www.missouladowntown.com/pianos. The pianos will remain in their locations through September.

For more information, to get involved, or to sponsor a piano for Play It Missoula! 2016, contact Noreen Humes at 406-543-4238 or email Noreen@missouladowntown.com.

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