Public Art Takes on a New Shape as 7 Decorated Pianos Roll into Downtown



March 20, 2014



Downtown Winnipeg – From skywalks to public parks, museums, and entertainment venues, 7 decorated pianos designed by local artists and at risk youth will fill the streets and spaces of downtown Winnipeg with music – just in time for the Winnipeg JUNO Awards. Appropriately named Play Your Part, this initiative is a new public art project that invites Winnipeggers to tour downtown to find and enjoy 7 pianos that were commissioned by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, the Winnipeg JUNO Host Committee, SHED Winnipeg, Winnipeg Free Press, Graffiti Art Programming Inc., Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and Rolly’s Transfer.

Launched today, pianos can be found at the MTS Centre, The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre, Portage Place, Manitoba Hydro Place Gallery, Bijou Park, The Forks, and the Delta Winnipeg Hotel but will also appear at downtown festivals and cultural institutions like the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) throughout 2014. JUNO Award nominees will be greeted on arrival at the Winnipeg Airport with one of these decorated pianos and will be encouraged to sign it. This piano will be auctioned off on eBay starting Tuesday, March 25th to raise funds for MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity that keeps music alive in schools across Canada, regardless of a child’s socio-economic circumstances or cultural background.

“We are honoured that Gibson Brands donated a piano to help raise funds for MusiCounts!” says Allan Reid, Director, MusiCounts. “This will be a one-of-a-kind item to commemorate the return of JUNO Awards to Winnipeg. It will also have a lasting legacy as the auction of the piano will support our grant programs.”

“Whether you are a musician, an office worker or student, or just feel like adding music to your day, these pianos are here for you to enjoy,” says Stefano Grande, Executive Director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “This initiative involves the entire community and is just another creative way for Winnipeggers to reimagine and make use of downtown’s public spaces.”

Participants are encouraged to upload and share their videos and photos of their interaction with the pianos on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #playyourpart – for a chance to win downtown music-related prizes, starting with three pairs of tickets to the WSO’s Manitoba Rocks event, featuring The Lytics, Imaginary Cities, and JUNO Award nominee Royal Canoe.

Manitoban musicians are already getting into the spirit as Matt Schellenberg from Royal Canoe, Colin McTavish from The Treble, and Sandy Taronno from Indicator, Indicator helped kick off the program today. Watch them performing at the pianos by searching #playyourpart on Instagram! This Saturday, March 22 at 2PM, The Treble will pop-up perform at all seven pianos and will document their journey via social media. Follow The Treble on Instagram and Twitter (@thetrebleband) to be sure you don’t miss a note!

Play Your Part pianos were designed by visual artist mentors and executed by Graffiti Art Programming’s Youth Leaders, at risk youth hired by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ through its CEO Sleepout funding. The Youth Leaders helped in the preparation, design and the painting of each piano. Visit to download a visual map that features more information about the pianos, the artists, and its locations downtown.

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ will host a luncheon on March 26th (11:30-12:30PM) at The Met to educate the business community about Play Your Part and to raise funds for MusiCounts. Ace Burpee to play host.

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For more information, please contact:

Jason Syvixay, Managing Director, Tel: (204) 958-4635,


Graffiti Art Programming’s Youth Leaders

  • Stormy Angeconeb is a 17 year old visual artist, fluent in artistic mediums such as graphite, charcoal, and acrylic paint. Stormy specializes in realism and portraiture while exploring a wide variety of styles and techniques.
  • Rene Marriot is a 19 year old visual artist, skilled in multiple mediums including pencil, ink, markers, acrylic and aerosol paints, pastels, and chalks. He is a perfectionist and prefers to get things done quickly and properly.
  • Shanine Palmer is a 19 year old single mother of 2 beautiful children. She’s been with Graffiti Art Programming since 2012 when funding was provided by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s CEO Sleepout. She is now the Outreach Coordinator for Studio 393. Her role is to help make Studio 393 a friendly and welcoming environment for anyone who drops in.
  • Marvin Joseph Barawid (Majo) is a 22 year old break dancer and dance instructor. While he has faced adversity and challenges throughout his life, Majo has begun to thrive by volunteering and sharing his knowledge with others.

Piano Profiles

City Sprawl (Mentoring Artist: Chloe Chafe), Location: The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre
Chloe Chafe is currently a fine arts student, practicing an array of mediums. This past year, she has focused on curating, researching and executing exhibitions around Winnipeg. Chafe is the residential visual artist at Studio 393. The piano design is inspired by the Montreal based artist collective, “En Masse”. Using a flat white background and black linear drawings, three artists each came up with designs around the layout of Winnipeg’s downtown. This style of art promotes collaboration between designers and creates an end product that is visually cohesive.

Stay Gold (Mentoring Artist: Pat Lazo), Location: The Forks
Pat Lazo has been involved with the early Canadian Graffiti movement, his art making draws from his experiences with this culture and life in general. The concept around Stay Gold stems from Lazo’s gratitude for having the opportunity to be creative in the city and province that he loves; something he sees as a challenge and a privilege. This piano acts as a reminder or a giant positive post-it note, reminding people to stay positive amongst the daily barrage of negative tweets, Facebook statuses, and rants by those around us.

Take Care (Mentoring Artist: Dany Reed), Location: MTS Centre
Dany Reede is a multi-media artist born, raised and working in Manitoba. His work is heavily influenced by street art, stick-and-poke tattoos and punk fanzines. While he works in all mediums, he illustrates daily as a journaling practice, often resulting in reoccurring imagery.

This piano features some of Reede’s characters and text that have become highly recognizable in the emerging art scene. He highlights the details already engraved in the piano while making it his own.

Happiano (Mentoring Artist: Kenneth Lavallee), Location: Manitoba Hydro Place Gallery
Kenneth Lavallee is a Winnipeg born artist, alumnus of the University of Manitoba which a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Primarily through the use of painting, drawing and silkscreen, Kenneth produces personal work embracing traditional ideas of balance, interdependence and the order of the cosmos, both aesthetically and thematically.

“Happiano” is designed to bring people happiness when venturing among cold streets. It’s simple. In morphing his organic shapes into smiling faces; Lavallee creates a fluid composition that’s both calming and aesthetically beautiful.

Superfun (Mentoring Artist: Dee Barsy), Location: Portage Place
Dee Barsy graduated in May 2013 from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Since 2006, Dee has worked with children and youth as an art instructor. In October 2014, Dee will graduate with an Educational Assistant Diploma from the University of Winnipeg. In the upcoming academic year, Dee plans on pursuing a Developmental Studies degree in Child Development and Child Care from the University of Winnipeg.

“Superfun” was inspired by a well-known optical illusion. In this project, Barsy concentrated on the mischievous aspects of optical art. As a result, she chose to challenge people’s visual perceptions with a couple of visual tricks.

The Juno Piano (Mentoring Artist: Chloe Chafe), Location: Airport and the Delta Winnipeg Hotel
The design of this piano serves the purpose of a minimalist design that highlights the JUNO’s logo as well as Manitoba’s official animal, the bison. In using one organic shape that will start at the pedals of the piano and run around it, connecting to the JUNO award keeping the image centered. The image of the bison will be placed in a series of fluid compositions within the ribbon of the JUNO logo.

Art Tatum (Mentoring Artist & Youth Leader: Hope Akello), Location: Bijou Park
The Art Tatum piano is the pilot piano for the Play Your Part downtown Piano Project. It prominently features a portrait of jazz legend and groundbreaking pianist Art Tatum on the backdrop of a sharp and vibrant Architectural inspired design. A direct quote from Art Tatum greets each player as they open the piano “there is no such thing as a bad note,” welcoming all levels and styles of players.

For a photo gallery of the press announcement click here.