Pianos in the Parks, Plus Westlake's Colorful Tables and Chairs

Electric blue tables paired with neon yellow chairs make for a sweet and vibrant setup downtown
By: Lauren Mang | Posted July 17, 2014

The trees colored in Smurf-blue are long gone in downtown's Westlake Park, but now its usual crop of bistro tables and chairs have been replaced by jazzier versions in electric blue and canary yellow.

Surrounded by the new colorful dining/seating additions, is a hot pink piano, wheeled out as part of the very arty and very summery campaign Pianos in the Parks. Twenty pianos, decked out and designed by the Gage Academy of Art faculty and students, are placed from today 'til August 17 in one of 15 Seattle city parks and open spots, such as Alki Park, Cal Anderson Park, Seattle Center, Westlake Park, plus five King County Parks locales like Marymoor Park and the Sammamish River Trail.

The pianos are tuned and ready for just about anyone to tickle those ivories; though on this inaugural day I noticed several people in Westlake simply using the pink piano's bench as a spot to rest. If you do happen to take a shot at playing your favorite tune, you can enter the Pianos in the Parks Facebook contest, in which you'll upload a video of your performance (must be an original piece or music from the public domain) for a chance to play at KEXP's Concerts at the Mural on August 22. Submissions are voted on via FB likes, and top five most liked piano men/women will then move on to a judging round involving a community panel.


Seattle Symphony is hosting free “Playdates in the Park” at the Westlake Park piano, bringing out string, wind, brass and percussion instruments one can explore alongside the symphony’s teaching artists.

photo credit: Seattle Symphony

The schedule is as follows, but guests are also invited to stay longer and jam on the park piano.

Thursday, July 24
10:30AM – 12PM

Friday, August 1
10:30AM – 12PM

Thursday, August 7
10:30AM – 12PM

Thursday, August 14
10:30AM – 12PM

Off the Wall School of Music has been getting in on the action too, sending piano teachers to select parks on Fri/Sat/Sun afternoons. No matter your age or experience level, they have cordially invited you (yes you) to sit down with them and play. Off the Wall has already reported successfully drawing in passersby with no musical background whatsoever, so don’t be shy about jumping in. The teachers and owner Chris Marx (pictured performing with perfect strangers) will be partaking in various other shennanigans until Pianos in the Parks ends. Check their facebook page for updates if this strikes a chord with you.

photo credit: Chris Marx

Teachers on-site at the following locations and times:

Fridays 3:00-4:30pm

Saturdays 5:00-6:30pm

Sundays 1:00-2:30pm

So far we've talked mainly about just a few pianos, but remember there are 20 of them total and they are all labors of love made beautiful by local artists. To give a picture of the work that’s gone into decorating these instruments, here’s a timelapse video of Kathleen Moore painting  “Rhapsody in Blue Skies,” the Seattle Center grand piano. The video captures her 50-hour effort in about 5 minutes.

So take it away, Seattle. Or, just sit back and enjoy the tinkling tunes from your bright and brand-new seating in Westlake.