Play Me I’m Yours

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Honourable Jean Augustine, Me and Honourable Consul General for Grenada Jenny Gumbs

Have you ever had a time or times in your life when you were so focused on an inspirational project that it was all you could eat, drink, think and dream about?  Well, I just had one of those experiences.  I was one of the forty-one artists selected to represent one of the forty-one countries participating in the Pan Para/pan Am Games launch.  The committee decided to try a well loved Play Me I’m Yours, interactive art installation that had successfully taken place in various European and American countries.  Our task was to paint a piano and bench in a way that would artistically represent our country.  I was given the Grenada piano to paint so I wanted to do my best to honour the country, its inhabitants and its history.  Okay, let me explain about being “given” the Grenada piano.  I was born in Trinidad and had submitted works to be considered for Trinidad, but that country had already been assigned.  My maternal grandfather was from Grenada, so I submitted works to be considered for my ancestral country.  I was honoured to be selected to represent Grenada.  I didn’t want it to just have the spices that Grenada is so well known for on the piano.  That would be too expected.  But then, when discussing my vision for the piano, relatives mentioned time and time again that I had to make sure and include a nutmeg so that Grenadians would feel like I captured the essence of their land.

Having typically worked on small canvases (8” x 11”) to the largest (4’ or 5’) feet, I had no concept of what it would take to create a work of art out of a piano.  At mid point in the whole process, I have to confess that I was kicking myself and wondering what I had gotten myself into.  I was relieved, and it was kind of a bonding moment, when I heard the same sentiment expressed by other artists there.  Although I loved the artistic energy and the collaborative spirit of people on site, I wasn’t often able to make it to the studio.   Mid way in the process, I threw out my back trying to lift canvases that I had committed to another exhibit and was therefore in bed for a week and away from creating my vision. (Cue the violins)  I had to ask the piano experts to take the piano apart and my daughter and I, then my parents and I, would collect pieces and bring them back when I was done.  So I would rest or try to sleep during the day when everyone was underfoot and I would begin my work between midnight and three when all was still.  This process went on and off and on again for weeks and weeks and weeks.  But oh, what a feeling!

Needless to say, the nutmeg, is front and almost centre, on the piano, while the beautiful city of St. Georges is on the other side.  I managed to put on the names of former athletes, who had distinguished themselves internationally, as well as lawyers, judges, politicians, artists and musicians.  On the base of the piano were images of the underwater sculptural park created by Jason de Caires Taylor and the coral reef.  The bench was adorned with a sea turtle.  On the hood, side, and front of the piano were flowers in motion, which represented traditional brightly adorned female dancer.  Take a look at the finished product.  To see more images check out streetpianos.com
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Piano bench for Grenada with sea turtle

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