Pretty Big

Sing Us a Song, You're the Piano Man

This temporary Theater District art installation has the range.

By Morgan Kinney August 22, 2018

Calling Tom Hanks!

Yes, this is your chance to re-enact that scene from Big. 

Local artist Joan Dodd turned a block of Lousiana Street into a massive, 275-key piano stretching across the east sidewalk of Jones Hall just in time for this weekend's TransCanada Theater District Open House.

Titled 88 Keys—the number on a standard piano—it's the latest addition to downtown's burgeoning public art landscape and an added enticement for Sunday's Open House, which serves as the soft launch for the fall arts season. Feel free to regale pedestrians in a hopscotch rendition of Chopsticks on your way to peek inside the almost-refurbed Wortham Center, or grab a selfie before popping over to the Hobby Center for some Broadway numbers, courtesy of TUTS.

How did the installation come to be? Dodd crafted her sidewalk Steinway using the same heavy-duty marking tape deployed on highways, and Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts students helped affix the installation key by key. Given Houston's less-than-legendary foot traffic, our cynical side wonders if highway-grade might be a little over the top, although it's definitely a step-up compared to the rapid deterioration of Montrose's pride crosswalks.

That said, the temporary 88 Keys installation will live far beyond this weekend. After the Open House, Dodd's team will roll up the sidewalks and haul the work a few blocks over to live out its days at the new downtown HSPVA campus slated to open January 2019. 

Look for 88 Keys outside Jones Hall for the Performing Arts on Lousiana Street between Capitol and Rusk.

Kiddos from HSPVA installing the temporary keys outside Jones Hall.

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