David Bush was watching a television show last year that featured New York City’s latest art campaign — public pianos.
“They had hundreds of pianos in their parks,” Bush said.
Bush, a Lexington general contractor who doesn’t play the piano, liked the concept so much he approached the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Parks and Recreation Department about placing pianos in Lexington’s parks.
Bush and the parks department set to work. It took more than a year and a lot of searches on Craigslist to find four suitable pianos. Parks and recreation staff artist Carol Drury added paint and artwork.
On July 19, Phoenix, Thoroughbred, Woodland and Castlewood parks will get one piano each. The pianos will be available to play until Aug. 30.
From 6 to 7 p.m. on July 19 in Phoenix and Thoroughbred Parks, professional pianists will play a selection of songs to kick off the inaugural Piano in the Parks season. July 19 is also the LexArts monthly Gallery Hop night, which draws a lot of people downtown to tour local art galleries.
Bush hopes the pianos will serve as a gathering spot for amateurs and professionals alike throughout the remainder of the summer.
“I would love to see people in the city come together around art,” Bush said.
Bush said several groups have stepped up to supervise the pianos. The pianos have waterproof covers in case of rain. They also will be locked at night so they cannot be stolen or played late in the evening. The Lexington Public Library has agreed to lock and oversee the piano in Phoenix Park. Cup of Commonwealth, a local coffee shop, will oversee the piano at Thoroughbred Park. LexArts will care for the piano at Castlewood Park. The city’s parks department will be responsible for the piano in Woodland Park.
“It’s really been a communitywide effort,” Bush said.
And the help keeps coming.
Bush has already received phone calls from people who want to donate pianos for other parks.
Pianos in the Parks began in 2014 in Seattle and has spread to other cities including Chicago and New York City. It’s not clear if Lexington is the first city in Kentucky to sponsor such a program.
Hopefully, the piano will bring more people together in the city’s public parks, he said.
“I love the arts and I just love to see someone who is exceptionally talented display them,” Bush said. “We definitely hope this will grow.”
People with pianos to donate can contact Bush at email@example.com.