Arts & Entertainment

Pianos Around Town Are Back and Music Will Fill the Air


SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The outdoor art and music project known as Playin’ Around South Orange is back in town, beginning Saturday, August 23.  South Orange Performing Arts Center, the Village of South Orange, Seton Hall University and South Orange Village Community Alliance (SOVCA) are presenting the second annual happening, which is sponsored by PNC Bank.  From noon to 1 p.m., professional musicians willplay the newly unveiled pianos at various locations throughout the village.

The pianos will be located at the Sloan Street Gazebo, Spiotta Park, Irvington and W. Fairview Avenues, Cameron Park, The Gateway, and Seton Hall University and will be available for the public to enjoy and play through October 6.  A jam session isplanned for Wednesdays from 5 to 7 the Sloan Street Gazebo.

In October, the pianos will be auctioned off, with proceeds benefitting South Orange Performing Arts Center’s education programming.

Artists were selected through an application process and have been decorating the pianos for the pat couple weeks. Each piano has a different theme, ranging from a tribute to the “genius of soul, Ray Charles,” to a piano painted as a colorful cat, complete with pedals as paws.

The Artists:

Bill Billec is a South Orange resident and a Graphic Designer and Artist with over 20 years of experience. His concept is a car theme riffing on the number 88, the number of keys on a piano. “I was inspired by Ike Turner’s piano playing in the 1951 Rhythm and Blues song, ‘Rocket 88,’ which is about the Oldsmobile 88, [which is] considered the first Rock n Roll Song.” Billec hopes to inspire the piano players to play some 50s rock and roll songs as well as other songs about cars.

Maeva Fouché, a Newark native, has been influenced by urban life, African and Carribbean culture as well as the works of Pablo Picasso, Jean-Michael Basquiat and Andy Warhol. Her idea for the piano is to create faces with bold bright colors. “People have said to me that my work makes them feel happy! Playin’ Around South Orange would be a great way to spread that feeling of ‘Happiness.’”

Lawrence Ciarallo, from Hoboken, plans on creating an homage to “The Genius of Soul,” legend Ray Charles. A firm believer in public art and often inspired by an artist’s body of work, Ciarallo paints portraits as a way to inform. “Portraits are a great way to start a conversation about someone. With Playin’ Around South Orange, what better way to start a dialogue about great music created on a piano than to immortalize someone who played it so well.”

Sarah Walters of South Orange was inspired both by her son and her mother for her piano. She recently took up painting as a form of therapy to deal with the diagnosis of her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease. She has painted a tribute to her mother’s pet Madeleine, transforming the whole piano into a cat.

“Mac” McPeters is from West Caldwell and teaches in the Morris School District. McPeters has also been a carpenter, cabinet maker and a draftsman. “I have been doing art for a long time though my feelings are that with each new piece, it starts over.”

Faculty and students of Seton Hall University have decorated the piano at the University.

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