What the heck are pianos doing downtown?

Cast members from Rubicon’s production of Return To The Forbidden Planet and piano artists singing at a Downtown piano.

The idea of putting the pianos downtown was that of Kirby Ward, Rubicon’s new Education and Outreach Director.

The “Keys to Rubicon” piano project was inspired by a similar installation in Denver, CO. That installation has been in place for over a decade now and is one of Kirby and Beverly (the other new Education and Outreach Director) Ward’s favorite parts of touring through Denver.

Beverly stated, “Kirby and I have worked here at Rubicon many times and are always surprised to hear people around town ask, “What’s Rubicon?”. It catches us by surprise. The Company’s been presenting professional theatre in Ventura for 20 years and yet there are still folks who don’t know that we’re here or what we’re trying to achieve. We felt like the pianos are a terrific way to engage people on the street and either remind them of Rubicon’s presence or let them know about the Company for the first time. These pianos grab you on so many levels – visual, auditory, tactile.”

She went on to say, “I found the pianos in a couple of places – on Craigslist as well as through people who heard about the project and reached out to me. The Craigslist “free” section routinely has several free acoustic pianos listed. I contacted a bunch of owners and came up with a list of 5. Then I hired 4 strapping young men, rented a truck and we drove all over Ventura and even up to Santa Barbara to collect the pianos and get them out on the street. It was fun! Hard work, but really fun. Since the initial pianos went out, we’ve had 2 more pianos donated to the cause by The Arc Foundation Thrift Store and The Child Abuse and Neglect Thrift Store. We had to apply for a temporary art installation permit from the City. We requested the pianos be on the street from late August until January 4, 2019 and got approval.”

Beverly met local artists Sarah Flesher and Michelle Nosco at a community meeting for the Ventura Arts Council. It was happenstance but very fortuitous! Michelle enlisted Erin O’Brien to help with her first piano. Both Michelle and Sarah are each painting two pianos.

There are currently three on the street. Two more will be out soon. They are unlocked and available for anyone and everyone to play during day time hours. So, gather some friends and have a sing-a-long.

The pianos will be removed on January 4, 2019. At this point there are no plans to try and save them as the weather will have taken quite a toll. That said, for anyone who falls in love with the artwork, the Rubicon may offer them up to the highest bidder.

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