Arts
6:30 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Public Art Project Piano Goes Missing In Himmarshee

Richard Vergez is one of the local artists who contributed to the Fort Lauderdale Play Your City, a public art installation project in which pianos are artfully stationed around downtown Fort Lauderdale. The idea is to invite residents to play the keyboards. Play, but, not get too carried away, is the core idea.

Have you seen this piano?

Apparently someone got too attached. Vergez's piano has been reported missing as of last Friday. That's right, his piano, seen in the image below, must have struck a chord with someone substantially enough to want to snatch it up. 

The Play Your City project consists of five pianos donated by the Salvation Army and decorated by local artists and designers. Launched on April 27 during the FAT Village art walk, all five pianos were placed in various public spaces around downtown. It's a collaboration between the city of Fort Lauderdale, Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale, and Cadence, a landscape architecture and urban design firm. It's an idea that has done well in other cities. "Paris has done it. New York has just released another round, and Miami had done it during Art Basel last year," says Rebecca Bradely, cofounder of Cadance.

Vergez, a Fort Lauderdale based artist and musician, treated his piano in the vein of surrealism and abstraction, a conceptual thread often seen in his designs. "I painted it not in the traditional sense but with a collage consisting of female images, faces, pieces of skin giving the piano a female human form," he says. "I installed mannequin legs on the front of it."  Vergez says his piano was last seen at  the New River Trading Post, located at 330 Himmarshee St., in Fort Lauderdale's nightlife district. 

The burning question is how can someone snatch up a piano without a witness? Especially one with mannequin legs installed on it? And why? The project's organizers are working on a search effort to recover Vergez's piece. Play Your City organizers have put up posts on its Facebook page and Instagram account (#ftlplayyourcity) asking if anyone knows its whereabouts.

While piano pranks are unusual, it has occurred in 2011 around these parts when a piano was placed unknowingly in Biscayne Bay. Yet another South Florida tale proving to boast us as a landscape for the weird.

Play Your City wraps up in Fort Lauderdale on July 27, bringing back the pianos in full circle to FAT Village for the art hub's Revel on the Block party, where they will be on display as part of a larger art exhibition, Reimagine, in one of FAT's warehouses.

"Vandalism happens all the time. We will have a back up plan in case we don't find it," says Bradley, who admits that she and the other Play Your City organizers were shocked that someone took a hefty instrument that's not only hard to move but makes quite a bit of noise when shifted around.

Vergez, though, seems unworried of the situation and looks forward to Revel on the Block. "The piano is lost, but I want to do a big sound performance, exposing people to music they don't usually hear, an electronic noise performance around the piano," he says of his idea to locking the keyboard and treating it as a percussion instrument.

If you have seen it or know of anything regarding this missing piano, contact the Play Your City folks by clicking here

Watch Richard Vergez perform: