Artist Nicoli Dominn outlines a personal quote on a piano. Dominn is painting the newest piano addition to Everett’s annual Street Tunes, a Greek interpretation of “The Little Mermaid.” (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Artist Nicoli Dominn outlines a personal quote on a piano. Dominn is painting the newest piano addition to Everett’s annual Street Tunes, a Greek interpretation of “The Little Mermaid.” (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Music returns to Everett sidewalks with Street Tunes program

Through Aug. 27, 16 painted pianos are rolled out for the enjoyment of players and passersby.

There will be many familiar sights — including a portrait of Jimi Hendrix — rolled out on the 16 pianos as part of Everett’s annual Street Tunes event.

And there will be one new addition: a piano painted by Everett artist Nicoli Dominn with a theme based on the Greek mythology related to “The Little Mermaid.”

The pianos deployed on Everett’s sidewalks through Aug. 27 give everyone a chance to try plunking out a familiar tune or displaying their hidden virtuoso.

Dominn, 32, who plays the keyboard for the band Dragorhäst, titled the new piano “Find Your Voice.” It’s the artist’s first paid commission.

“It’s been one of many stories burning in my mind,” Dominn said of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

“I took issue with his ending and wrote a better one in which there is no romantic objective, and the mermaid — siren, in my version — learns to read and write, and thereby regains her voice.”

This piano illustrates the siren’s transformation and features Sappho, Alkaios and Pittakos — real figures in Greek history from the isle of Lesbos, who are also depicted on the piano in Greek pottery imagery.

The piano can be seen and played at Fast Signs, 2802 Colby Ave.

This year, the piano parked outside the front steps of Everett’s main library at 2710 Hoyt Ave. is “Meow Art” by Cathy Tanasse.

“It’s lovely to walk by and there are people of all types who play it with all types of musical ability,” said Abby Cooley, the Everett Public Library’s director. “Generally I’m surprised by how many people we have who are talented pianists.”

This is the ninth year Everett’s sidewalks have been dotted by the artistic pianos. When the program began in 2010, Everett was the first Northwest city to deploy pianos in its downtown area.

Every year, people begin asking when the pianos will be available, said Carol Thomas, the city’s cultural arts manager. “People love the pianos.”

Some families make scavenger hunts out of locating each of the pianos along city streets, she said. Some performers play a duet with a violinist or have singers join in with the music.

“It really draws a big audience from in Everett and outside Everett to the downtown,” Thomas said.

In previous years, there have been as many as 18 pianos on local sidewalks. But the instruments are on a rotation: If they’re placed out for the event one year, they aren’t used the next year because of moisture, which can affect the keys.

“First and foremost, they have to be a musical instrument,” she said.

Three painted pianos remain from 2010 for people to play and enjoy: “Sun in Raven in Whale” by Darrin Hess and Jane Meagher at Everett Station, 3201 Smith Ave.; “Music Leopard Lounge” by Janet Wold at Silver Cup Coffee Cafe, 2707 Colby Ave.; and “Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love” by Cheri O’Brien at the Schack Art Center, 2921 Hoyt Ave.

Holly Burkett-Pohland, owner of Burkett’s on Colby Avenue, has watched people sit down at a piano outside her shop since Street Tunes’ early days.

“It helps bring us all together. I think that’s a great message we’re sending to the community,” she said.

She said she’s seen little children play songs from their piano lessons, adults who come back regularly and people from out of town.

“It’s a complete variety of people,” she said. “It brings joy to our community.”

And those of you looking for the piano with the likeness of Seattle’s Mr. Hendrix will find that one at 2710 Wetmore Ave. in the Wetmore Theatre Plaza.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

If you go

Street Tunes, Everett’s annual event where pianos painted by artists are stationed on sidewalks for the public to play, continues through Aug. 27.

A map with the location of each piano can be found online at everettwa.gov/824/Street-Tunes. Vote for your favorite piano here: www.surveymonkey.com/r/6QHYMB7

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