Painted pianos wheeled out in downtown Aztec

Project was championed by City Commissioner Rosalyn Fry

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

AZTEC — A crowd of approximately two dozen people gathered in the Main Avenue Plaza here on the morning of Aug. 15 to celebrate the introduction of the Painted Pianos — Big Sound in a Small Town project spearheaded by City Commissioner Rosalyn Fry.

Fry smiled as she surveyed the turnout, but she couldn't help but take note of the fact that the pianos — each one bearing a fresh paint job conveying a distinctive theme – had not attracted any players yet.

"Probably if no one was around, they'd sit down and play," she said of the members of the crowd apparently gripped by shyness.

The unveiling ceremony featured the artists who painted the pianos — Timithy Gordon, Sandy Waybourn, Bonnie Adams, Cindy Iacovetto and Connie Hutcheson — and a crowd of onlookers. Fry got the festivities started by making a short speech about the project, which will see the four pianos placed outside businesses around the downtown district where passersby will be free to bang away at them.

Hoyle Osborne plays a ragtime tune in Aztec's Main Avenue Plaza on Aug. 15, 2020, during the introductory event for the town's Painted Pianos -- Big Sound in a Small Town project.

Fry thanked the Aztec Chamber of Commerce for its partnership with the City of Aztec in getting the project off the ground, as well as the artists who donated their time and talent in painting the instruments. Their work has been commemorated through the placement of a plaque on the back of each piano that features a short biography of each artist.

"Look at the details, read their bios, because they're all very special, and they all volunteered for this," Fry said.

Aztec City Commissioner Rosalyn Fry introduces the artists who took part in the Painted Pianos -- Big Sound in a Small Town project during an introductory event on Aug. 15, 2020, at the Main Avenue Plaza.

She also introduced local pianist Hoyle Osborne, who entertained the crowd with some ragtime tunes. Osborne will perform a full concert on the pianos in late September or early October before they are stored inside for the year.

Osborne recalled his own introduction to the instrument that he would wind up playing professionally.

"I actually didn't have a piano of my own (as a child)," he said, explaining that his mother refused to buy him one until she had moved the family into a new house. "That happened the year I turned 9, and then my mother bought a piano, as promised."

Osborne noted that each of the pianos featured large, sturdy wheels — a feature he recommended to Fry when she called to consult with him about the project — which will make them easier to move.

Artists Cindy Iacovetto, left, and Connie Hutcheson display their piano painted in a Swiss cheese-and-mice theme on Aug. 15, 2020, at the Main Avenue Plaza in Aztec.

Each piano also was equipped with a bottle of hand sanitizer for players to use before they sat down at the keyboard, and other cleaning equipment and face masks were positioned at a nearby table. Two of the pianos had large "PLAY ME" signs positioned on them while canopies or umbrellas protected all four instruments from the sun.

While time will tell how popular the pianos turn out to be with downtown visitors, Fry thought the introductory event was a good start.

Artist Bonnie Adams poses with her piano featuring a theme promoting the healing power of music on Aug. 15, 2020, at the Main Avenue Plaza in Aztec.

"I'm quite pleased," she said. "I'm quite proud and amazed by the support from the artists here in town. They put in a lot of work and a lot of time. It's cool."

Other pianos already have been donated for the project, and Fry is looking for additional artists who are interested in donating their services.

"The future (of the project) will depend on how many businesses allow a piano at their place," she said.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription.