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The sight of music: Synaesthetic artist paints piano

Color the keys: Artist Manon Casimir shows off the piano she painted for the Sing for Hope project. The instrument will sit ready for people to play it in Sunset Park until June 25.
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Brooklyn is getting all keyed up!

More than a dozen brightly painted pianos popped up across the borough this week, inviting anyone to tickle the keys as part of the Sing for Hope public art project. The artist behind one eye-catching instrument in Sunset Park says that she designed her piece to draw people in so they would fill the air with music.

“I wanted to create something really quirky, something that people will stop and look at, and with all the bright colors, say ‘Hey this looks really cool’ and just take the time to play it,” said Manon Casimir.

The Canarsie artist experiences synesthesia — a condition that lets her see sounds — and her piano painting reflects her visual perception of music. One segment, decorated with purple and black swirls, represents the sine waves that she spots in tunes, and the various colors — purple, yellow, black, pink — represent different frequencies in songs, she said.

Casimir normally paints on linen, canvas, and wood panels, but this is the first time she has applied her brush to a musical instrument. She has been playing the piano for two years, but the experience of painting each section of the device gave her a new appreciation for its complexity.

“It was definitely challenging,” she said. “It’s so funny, because I normally play the piano — but I never really knew how many parts there were until I did this.”

The Sing for Hope program creates opportunities to play piano for those who might not have access to the pricey instrument. The 14 devices scattered across Brooklyn include several painted with tributes to local scenes, including an homage to the subway on an instrument in Willoughby Square Downtown, and scenes from the People’s Playground painted on a piano parked on the Coney Island Boardwalk.

The pianos will be kept in place until June 25, when they will be transported to public schools across the city.

Casimir, who titled her artistic instrument “Loud, So Hope Can Hear It,” wants people to play her piano unabashedly while they have the chance, and to use the music to escape from everyday frustrations.

“I want people just to play the piano loudly, have a great time, and not worry about stress,” she said.

Sing for Hope piano by Manon Casimir in Sunset Park (near the flagpole, 41st Street at Sixth Avenue in Sunset Park, www.singforhope.org). Through June 25. Free.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 12:51 pm, June 23, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Gimme from Yourz says:
Shawty gotz sum azz on her yo!
June 8, 10:10 pm
Honeycita from Sunset Park says:
Of course this bits put the piano far away from where she lives, so the rest of us have to listen to the crappy music! We don't want loud, bad noise you dumb bits!
June 9, 9:05 am
Steph Thompson from Park Slope says:
So beautiful! Thanks for sharing this story! Music and art is a great way to build communities:))
June 9, 10:53 am
Lentol Vagine from Park Slope says:
This is just a rip-off of a piano I myself painted in 1995, in Baltimore. It looks EXACTLY the same!
June 9, 2:49 pm
Theresa from Washington says:
Did she just copy Lentol Vagine's piano painting, and then pocket all the money? If so, that's a crime! This woman might go to jail!
June 11, 9:40 am
Gimme from Yourz says:
My mommy didn't give me enough attention, that's why I'm such an animal.
July 14, 10:31 am

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