By Ben Olson
Passersby at the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint’s building at 110 Main St. may have noticed the two public pianos on the sidewalk have received an artistic facelift.
The pianos are the first installment in a new project called Instrument Art Factory at MCS, which blends art and music for local music students.
MCS Executive Director Karin Wedemeyer said the project is the result of brainstorming a way to find uses for many of the instruments the conservatory receives that are beyond repair.
“There’s no heaven for instruments, so we need to give them a new life,” Wedemeyer told the Reader.
The project is a collaboration between MCS and local artists Kelly Price and Peter Goetzinger, who are spearheading the program with local music students interested in widening their creative output.
“Our goal in creating this program is to open new doorways in student musicians’ minds,” Price told the Reader. “We believe artistry is a human birthright. Everyone benefits from expressing themselves through visual art, whether they’ve been officially deemed as an ‘artist’ in their young years or not.”
Goetzinger said the program is especially beneficial for young people who may not believe they have artistic ability.
“We hear this all the time, ‘I can’t draw’; ‘I’m not an artist,’” Goetzinger said. “By giving [kids] a venue and the materials and confidence to understand that we are all born artists — that the very nature of being a human is to be an artist — we want to encourage that through whatever means.”
Goetzinger and Price have collaborated to create small, manageable class sizes to give each participating student the time and attention they desire to help give these instruments a new lease on life. The public pianos were the first phase of the ongoing project, with each painted in colorful designs by the students.
“There were about 10 kids who signed up [for the piano painting],” Price said. “Each of us had four to five kids and officiated over each piano, then we switched leaders on each side. It became a different interpretation then.”
“We worked with the kids so that they came up with the ideas and designs,” Goetzinger said. “We let them loose and they all submitted their drawings and we combined several of them. That was allowing children to be empowered through art and that decision making showed there was no right or wrong way to go about this.”
The pianos were donated to MCS and have sat outside the building on Second Avenue through hot summer days and cold winter nights, providing passersby the unique opportunity to bang out their favorite pieces any time they feel inspired.
“These two pianos, we collectively have noticed, are actually loved,” Wedemeyer said. “You can come by at 2 a.m. and someone will be playing everything from sonatas to ‘Jingle Bells.’ Winter had done a bit of damage to them, but one day I was walking out there and there were these two people who polished and cleaned them up. They became our piano fairies.”
Wedemeyer said mother and daughter Jennifer and Ada Greve — the “piano fairies” — have gone above and beyond to keep the instruments cleaned up and neat when the elements have been less than ideal. She said the Greves will be invited to thank them when the project holds its first public showing, which will most likely be coordinated through the Pend Oreille Arts Council.
The classes are slated to begin in fall, most likely during the second or third week of September. Because they are microclasses, social distancing will be practiced. For those interested in signing up for future classes, contact MCS at [email protected] Those who have instruments that are beyond repair and would like to donate them to the project should email or call 208-265-4444 ahead of time to make sure someone is available to receive the donation.
Wedemeyer said MCS is currently writing grants to help fund for this unique class, but donations will be gladly accepted by community members and businesses. Since MCS is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, all donations are tax deductible. Wedemeyer said the finished art pieces may even be auctioned off at a later date to help fund the project.
“The whole philosophy has to be really collaborative,” she said. “Any time we can bring people together with a goal, there’s a huge amount of rewards and success.”
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