A work party on Saturday prepares Port Angeles’ downtown piano for a makeover on Saturday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

A work party on Saturday prepares Port Angeles’ downtown piano for a makeover on Saturday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Downtown Port Angeles piano getting a makeover

PORT ANGELES — The piano that filled the downtown streets of Port Angeles with music last summer is getting a makeover before it returns.

A work party at the Conrad Dyer Memorial Fountain in downtown Port Angeles pulled the piano apart on Saturday, sanding it and prepping it to be painted this week — and possibly back out on the streets by this weekend.

Downtown business owner Mike French, a City Council member, said he began putting the piano out last summer.

His inspiration was a young trumpet player who busked at the fountain, he said.

“It was a young musician who was trying to better himself and become better at his craft while entertaining people in the process,” French said.

French, who plays piano and has never had a portable instrument, wanted pianists to be able to do the same thing, he said.

After checking with city officials and neighbors, French added better wheels to a piano, which was donated by United Methodist Church, and began leaving it at the fountain on sunny days.

French said he was delighted to see how well the community reacted to having the piano downtown last summer.

“We’re a super musical community, so to me this made total sense,” he said. “And to see the joy it brought to a lot of people solidified what I thought was a great idea.”

After the piano had been out for awhile, people suggested that it should be painted, French said. That’s when, at the suggestion of others, French asked Natalie Martin of Sequim to paint the piano before it hits the streets again this summer.

Martin, who has specialized in painting pianos for the last eight years, also painted pianos in Sequim for Keying Around.

She said she will combine elements that speak to Port Angeles, taking a whimsical approach that will likely include mountains, water and music.

“It’s always a lot of detail; it’s not just a block of colors,” she said. “Every piano tells a story and I let the piano speak for itself.”

Though she specializes in painting pianos, she doesn’t play music. She leaves that to people who know what they are doing, she said.

“I am not musically inclined,” she said. “I have a deep appreciation for pianos. I love music, but I leave that to someone else. I just make them pretty.”

She estimated that she could be done painting the piano on Friday, depending on how things go. She planned to paint much of it from her home, but also planned to paint parts of it at the former Maurices, adjacent to the fountain.

She said it will take some time to dry before it can be out in the sun.

French said he is excited and is prepared to put the piano out again for the public to use once it’s done.

He said last summer he would push the piano out in the morning, then sit down at the fountain to play music and relax in the morning.

“It was a moment to myself,” he said.

French, who often plays piano in his living room at home, said playing in public is different and that the downtown piano has worked as a conversation started.

“I’d have all sorts of really interesting conversations with people I never really would have had a conversation with without that piece to start a conversation,” he said. “Out here, it’s hard to not have conversations and make connections.”

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

Piano artist Natalie Martin of Sequim sands down the piano that filled the Port Angeles downtown streets with music last year during a work party Saturday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Piano artist Natalie Martin of Sequim sands down the piano that filled the Port Angeles downtown streets with music last year during a work party Saturday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

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