Cows, racecars … and now pianos?

March 18, 2008
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Ever since the Chicago cows appeared in 1999, city marketers and arts folks have been trying to find attention-getting gimmicks to boost awareness of their towns’ coolness. Many of these—including our very own artist-decorated race cars—have been reactive rather than innovative.

In Birmingham, England, though, something interesting is happening on the streets right now—spontaneous music. Seemingly out of nowhere, 15 pianos have appeared and are being played by anyone who feels like taking a seat on their benches.

The project—according to a story at—is the brainchild of Luke Jerram, an artist previously responsible for putting an orchestra in hot air balloons for a morning serenade.

To my ears, the “Play Me, I’m Your’s” project (which ends on Easter) is a truly great idea—one that should open our minds to our own, unique possibilities here in Indy.

Your thoughts?
  • I was working for City of Chicago in the city-sponsored tourist organization called Downtown Thursday Night. It sounded like a ridiculous idea but impacted millions of dollars and helped fund the Millenium Park, which is totally awesome in its awesomeness.

    I actually contracted to deliver blank white cows to some of the artists. Imagine the looks I got driving around lost in the suburbs with a big white fiberglass cow in the back of my S10.

    Any effort, even if it is reactive, is better than nothing.
  • I like the idea of public pianos. I imagine they would get pretty banged up, so if I owned a piano, I wouldn't want to lend mine for the project. Also, they would have to be placed in places that were protected from the weather.

    But I like the idea.

    As for boosting awareness of our town's coolness...hmm. I think coolness comes from something other than decorations and props.

    But (laughing) I am probably the least cool individual I know, so I am probably not the person to ask about coolness communication at the community level.

    I would have to percolate on this some more.

    Hope Baugh
  • I actually lived in England for awhile, and it was common to have 'steel drum' groups playing 'live' near Birmingham shopping centres. Having public piano's or percussion instruments as a promotion would be fantastic! It would be a great way to entice sales/lessons at local music stores and spark energetic activity. Local dining establishments would likely benefit from spontaneous attractions also.
  • Millennium Park is a vastly over-rated attraction. It's an example of what I call the self-reinforcing nature of big cities. Namely, it gets extra kudos just for being in downtown Chicago and being hyper-expensive. (It was, among other things, a financial and construction boondoggle far worse than the Central Library expansion in Indy). If this were located in a city like Indy, it wouldn't get half the cred and press it's gotten in Chicago. (There are some parts I really like, however, such as the trellis overtop the lawn for the band shell).

    Also, Chicago did not invent the cows exhibit. They copied it from a European city, somewhere in Switzerland, I believe, but won't swear to it. The fact that everyone believes this was a Chicago thing is yet another example of what I'm talking about.
  • Urbanophile,
    You are correct. The cows thing was done in Zurich a year earlier.
    I don't think we would have seen as many American variations if it wasn't for the Chicago exhibition.
  • Hold on a second Urbanophile! If you think for one second that Chicago is the kind of town that tolerates corruption, over charges, and boondogglery allow me to put that to idea to rest right now...

Post a comment to this blog

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
  1. I am a Lyft driver who is a licensed CDL professional driver. ALL Lyft drivers take pride in providing quality service to the Indianapolis and surrounding areas, and we take the safety of our passengers and the public seriously.(passengers are required to put seat belts on when they get in our cars) We do go through background checks, driving records are checked as are the personal cars we drive, (these are OUR private cars we use) Unlike taxi cabs and their drivers Lyft (and yes Uber) provide passengers with a clean car inside and out, a friendly and courteous driver, and who is dressed appropriately and is groomed appropriately. I go so far as to offer mints, candy and/or small bottle of water to the my customers. It's a mutual respect between driver and passenger. With Best Regards

  2. to be the big fish in the little pond of IRL midwest racin' when yer up against Racin' Gardner

  3. In the first sentance "As a resident of one of these new Carmel Apartments the issue the local governments need to discuss are build quality & price." need a way to edit

  4. As a resident of one of these new Carmel Apartments the issue the local governments need to discuss is build quality & price. First none of these places is worth $1100 for a one bedroom. Downtown Carmel or Keystone at the Crossing in Indy. It doesn't matter. All require you to get in your car to get just about anywhere you need to go. I'm in one of the Carmel apartments now where after just 2.5 short years one of the kitchen cabinet doors is crooked and lawn and property maintenance seems to be lacking my old Indianapolis apartment which cost $300 less. This is one of the new star apartments. As they keep building throughout the area "deals" will start popping up creating shoppers. If your property is falling apart after year 3 what will it look like after year 5 or 10??? Why would one stay here if they could move to a new Broad Ripple in 2 to 3 years or another part of the Far Northside?? The complexes aren't going to let the "poor" move in without local permission so that's not that problem, but it the occupancy rate drops suddenly because the "Young" people moved back to Indy then look out.

  5. Why are you so concerned about Ace hardware? I don't understand why anyone goes there! Every time ive gone in the past, they don't have what I need and I end up going to the big box stores. I understand the service aspect and that they try to be helpful but if they are going to survive I think they might need to carry more specialty parts.