The Pretty Piano Project is one that many in the Pikes Peak region couldn't wait to get their hands on.

The community art collaboration was facilitated by Jennifer Ryan, founder of The Mural Project of Colorado Springs.

"It started with one piano donated by Barry Noreen," Ryan said. Barry and his wife, Vickie, offered a 1912 upright piano to Ryan to do with what she would. Ryan was inspired to bring the arts community together to transform the pianos into what she had seen on the 16th Street Mall in Denver - colorfully painted pianos out in the open for anyone to play.

Now painted and called "Madge," the Noreens' instrument has a new life on the patio of Seeds Community Cafe downtown.

Seeds Chef Lyn Harwell was among the 20 or so people who gathered outside the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region Thursday to dedicate the Pretty Piano Project pianos to the city and kick off National Arts Month.

Andy Vick, executive director of COPPeR, said the pianos donated to the project will "build awareness of the arts in this city."

He introduced another donated and fancifully painted piano, "Oliver," that's now a fixture outside COPPeR, 121 S. Tejon St.

More than a conversation piece or an art object, the piano invites people of all walks of life to share music and play.

"I've seen so many great pianists who sit down at that piano and the most amazing music comes out," Vick said. "It's really already been special to watch people decide whether it's OK to play."

Four pianos were donated to the project. A fifth piano is in the works, and 11 total are planned.

Mayor John Suthers also spoke during the brief ceremony, which included a ribbon-cutting in front of "Oliver."

"This is kind of a fun deal," he said. "It's worked well in other cities, and I have no doubt it will do well here. I think it will be a vibrant new element in Colorado Springs."

Part of the fun, said Suthers, is "you never know who's going to sit down and play." Suthers said he doesn't play piano, but did peck out a few notes for the crowd.

A piano donated by Colorado Springs residents Pam and Bud Gresett, now at First & Main Town Center, was the piano Bud Gresett learned to play when he was 7, and the instrument all their children learned on.

"He said 'it's time for me to let it go,'" said Pam Gresett at Thursday's breezy ceremony. "We thought this project would be the perfect place for it."

Editor, Pikes Peak Newspapers

In June 2019, Michelle became editor of the four Pikes Peak Newspapers: Pikes Peak Courier; The Tribune; and the Cheyenne and Woodmen editions. A Penn State journalism graduate, she joined the Gazette staff in 2015.

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