This Friday, Jan. 17, Five Points Park will play host to Sarasota Keys, an interactive Arts and Cultural Alliance project that will place six public pianos downtown. Six local artists transformed each piano into a work of public art, and this Friday at 5 p.m., they will be unveiled with a live performance before being moved to their respective spots. We sat down with curator and artist, Tim Jaeger, to discuss the project.
How did you get involved with Sarasota Keys?
Jim Shirley (executive director of the Ats and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County) approached me and introduced me to the project, and he said he was looking for some artists to participate, and I really liked the project, so I gave him a few names to get started. I think we have a really great group of people. There's a good mix of gender, age, subject matter and artistic styles. That's really important.
What made this project unique?
When you're creating something like this, you have a realization that this is a lot different than making something to be displayed in a gallery. People aren't seeking this art out; they're coming across it in public — people from every walk of life. We had to take that into account. It needed to be accessible and attractive to everyone, but we still wanted it to mean something to us.
Was that a challenge?
It was. This was the first project my wife (Cassia Kite) and I collaborated on, so that was a learning experience. It's all about finding a way to get people to come take a closer look at the art, and I think that's the underlying theme of the whole project — how can we get people to take a closer look at the arts scene locally? This is the bait on the hook, so to speak.
What theme did you choose for your piano?
My wife comes from Nebraska, and I come from Kentucky. Ours is titled, "Down Home," and it's just the farm life. It's painting and drawing, and I put a few roosters in there, which I've been known to do. We took a lot of time to think about what we wanted to do, because we wanted it to be accessible but still mean something to us. If you're looking for it, you can sort of see our relationship and our story in the piece.
What does this project mean to you?
I applaud our commissioners for giving this a chance. I never thought something like this would happen, and I'm excited to see what comes of it. It's really good for Sarasota. It engages people in the arts visually and audibly, and it's the kind of attraction that can totally change someone from out of town's experience with the city. It's definitely a step in the right direction.
What do you hope people take away from this?
There's that old saying, look, but don't touch. Well, this is the exact opposite of that. You can sit on it, lean on it, pound on the keys. The interactive nature of it is really important. Big or small, I just hope people come away with a greater appreciation of art — it will have a ripple effect.