Keys to Beacon 2018: An Exploration Of The Outdoor Pianos That Played In Beacon

 A boy crouches to play a tiny piano outside of Towne Crier. Photo Credit: Lisa Marie Martinez Piano Artist:  Miss Vickie

A boy crouches to play a tiny piano outside of Towne Crier.
Photo Credit: Lisa Marie Martinez Piano Artist: Miss Vickie

Back before the peak fall foliage season of September, and before the first blizzard of the pre-winter season hit us, A Little Beacon Blog planned a big feature on the Keys to Beacon project from BeaconArts. This is the outdoor, interactive art installation, whereby 11 pianos covered in some kind of artistic expression were placed at locations throughout the city.

We sent out an essayist to find and experience as many pianos as she could in real life. Please meet Izdihar Dabashi, a writer, poet and college student, and follow along on her discoveries, and how the pianos touched her and those around her.

Keys To Beacon 2018 - An Exploration

by Izdihar Dabashi
All Photos by Izdihar Dabashi
Izdihar is studying Psychology. She is a writer, loves fiction novels and writing poetry. When she is not writing, she is reading a novel with a strong heroine and drinking tea in a faux fur coat.

Auburn leaves danced in the wind, wisps of hair and tangles of scarves flit about in the cool weather. Softly, Adele’s voice weaves into the moment creating an ambiance that is undoubtedly autumn in New York. As if singing Hello to myself isn’t dramatic enough, the universe seems to encourage my bout of melodrama as evidenced by the several pianos adorning Main Street. I was tempted to ignore the peculiar sights and continue to sonder, but the tinkling sounds of the pianos rang through the air and lured me to their sights.

 Piano at Bank Square at Polhill Park Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

Piano at Bank Square at Polhill Park
Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

Across the street from Bank Square at Polhill Park, a white-speckled black piano bathed in the autumn sun. Strikes of sheer gold paint the surface of the piano, ballon-like blobs of paint float amidst the spectacular design. A trio of city girls tinkered with the keys, flooding the afternoon light with airy chimes and tittering smiles. Leaves of maroon and honey weaved through the air pushing me forward to my next location, humming “Colors of the Wind” underneath my breath as the scenic fall weather emited a Pocahontas-like movie moment from me.

I found myself outside of City Hall facing a grand piano. Blends of scarlet fade into citrus, bursting out smooth blues and shocks of violet; the sophisticated rainbow design contrasted beautifully against the sleek ebony body. I seated myself on the sturdy bench, stretched my dainty fingers, and summoned a tune so beautiful and strange all of Beacon peeked out from their windows, traffic stilled, even the birds turned their ambitious chirps into humble murmurs.

Kidding - it took me about five minutes for my short stubby fingers to figure out how to gracefully lift the fall board. I could understand why Beacon Arts placed this particular piano outside City Hall because the glorious sight was enough to reinforce the visual legacy Beacon holds, an enticing city full of expression.

 Piano at Beacon Historical Society on South Avenue Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

Piano at Beacon Historical Society on South Avenue
Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

Somehow, my suede camel boots clicked their wooden heels all the way to Beacon Historical Society. A tangerine piano with magenta circles brought me back to the days of Maggie and the Ferocious Beast , a popular children’s cartoon show. Childlike-wonder surrounded the theme of this piece and graced a smile on a little girl’s face. She happened to be the pianist of the hour, and a runaway from the birthday party hosted next door. Setting her fairy wand and birthday party hat down, she clambered to settle onto the orange bench. Her happiness was contagious and soon a small crowd formed finding joy in her clumsy tune as she confidently bobbed her head. We should have exchanged autographs.

Making my way back to Main Street, immersing myself in the hustle and bustle of the weekend flow, I came across the next piano. Situated a few feet away from the Rick Price mural, a sky-blue piano covered in paintings of a garden and a chubby Garfield-like cat invited a young couple to playfully serenade one another. It was disgustingly cute, a scene straight out of a Rom-Com.

 Piano at Key Food. Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

Piano at Key Food.
Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

Flickering flames mask the small black piano outside of Key Food. An adorable little boy dressed in black and red fit the aesthetic of the piano, it was too cute for me not to stop and take a photo of him.

 Piano outside of Beacon Pantry. Photo Credit:

Piano outside of Beacon Pantry.
Photo Credit:

Outside of Beacon Pantry, a chalkboard piano waits for me to scribble my signature all over it. A bucket full of colorful chalk is screwed into the top of the piano, inviting people to temporarily leave their mark. I left my autograph then followed the scent of sharp cheese and fresh bread for a heavenly sandwich from Beacon Pantry.

 Piano at Howland Cultural Center. Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

Piano at Howland Cultural Center.
Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

The piano next to the Howland Cultural Center is covered in sheet music and children’s handprints in an array of vivid colors. This piano seems to play on its own, simply needing the wind to tinker with the keys. Soft blue spikes decorate the surface of the bench hosting a young pianist. Her bright smile crinkled the corners of her cinnamon eyes, her joy as distinguishable as her vibrant magenta shirt. My inner babushka managed to resist pinching her cheeks.

Edging closer to Beacon Falls, an ivory piano blanketed with a crocheted burst of warm orange and yellow sits across Loopy Mango, the chunky yarn store. I was in the middle of explaining to my parents how I wanted to take a photo of the piano when my mother whipped out her phone and took several photos of my father modeling. Le sigh.

 Piano near the Beacon Falls of the Fishkill Creek. Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

Piano near the Beacon Falls of the Fishkill Creek.
Photo Credit: Izdihar Dabashi

Crimson wings hide out under a cover of branches across from Beacon Falls. The massive red piano settled beneath the serenity of the clusters of trees attracted several city goers to an otherwise abandoned spot. I expected a magical dragon to appear and summon me to a quest, or perhaps the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland to lure me to another dizzying sight of magic. I stumbled across a family of three celebrating their father’s birthday, and another cluster of friends creating tunes out of thin air.

Locations For All Of The Pianos

Beacon Arts volunteers consisting of local artists and musicians provoked conversation and inspired feelings of awe by placing 11 pianos around Beacon. This year's locations have been City Hall, Beacon Historical Society, Polhill Park, Pop-up park at Cross & Main Streets, Key Foods, Howland Library, 380 Main St., Howland Cultural Center, Fishkill Falls Park, Memorial Clock (across from Loopy Mango), & Hudson Valley Brewery.

To follow the fate of the pianos as they were moved around the city, and to see other performances and activities around the pianos, visit www.keystobeacon.com.

To learn how to support the project with a donation, or to donate a piano, see their Support page.