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Street pianos are ready to play in Cobourg


The creative public-art project The Keys to Our Town is once again returning to the streets of Cobourg with three hand-painted pianos.

Each gently used piano was donated and then hand-painted by local artists who took into consideration the Canada 150 and Cobourg 2017 theme this year, the town’s press release said.

Their creations offer a free avenue for citizens who want to express their musical talents in a public setting. From passers-by at Victoria Park to employees in Victoria Park, many people have been charmed by the results. And it grows in popularity year after year, especially since the musical stylings of Cobourg resident Michael McNamara on a creation called Foxgang Amadeus got national attention in 2014.

The 2017 crop will be ready to play daily (weather permitting) starting at 10 a.m. until Sept. 4.

The Keys to Our Town provides a free avenue for citizens looking to express their musical talents in a public setting. Year over year the project has grown in popularity receiving national media attention and will be made available to play beginning from 10 a.m. (weather permitting) until September 4, 2017. 

The town’s press release offers details about each of the three pianos and their creators.

• Ursa Major is by Katriona Dean, the artist behind Foxgang Amadeus, and it’s in the same location — at the northwest corner of Victoria Park at the corner of King and McGill streets. Dean typically creates an animal-themed piano each year, and this year she’s turned out a polar bear.

Dean won a Rogers AT&T art scholarship early in her career, which led her to sharpen her creative skills in graphic design as a student at Durham College and as an intern in the United Kingdom. She has designed for the newspaper industry, tourism and currently in education as the Web Information Officer at Trent University. She also works as a freelance illustrator, sculptor, photographer, designer and marketing specialist. She is the Art Director for {poetry in Cobourg spaces}, a board member for the Arts Council of Northumberland, speaks three languages, writes poetry, rides a motorcycle and has a love of all things natural and wild. You can follow her creative endeavors at

• Cobourg’s 180th Birthday is by Cobourg Collegiate Institute student Sydney Stewart, and it’s set up in front of Victoria Hall — appropriately, since the Grade 11 student spends a lot of time in the Downtown Cobourg area.

For her design, she worked with the Cobourg anniversary to highlight some of the town’s well-known locations and significant past residents, and interpreted her research in a beautiful watercolour rendering.

• Strong, Proud and Free is by Northumberland resident Sherrilyn Guest, set up near the water fountain in Rotary Park. Guest has been exploring art since the age of three, at least partly because she was born into a very creative family. A self-taught artist, she lives on a local farm with her husband and two children, but still finds time to work with a number of media. She lists calligraphy, clay, acrylic, watercolour and pencil as her favourites, and she is in the process of writing her first book.

“We are just thrilled to see the pianos out once again this season for all to enjoy,” Councillor Suzanne Séguin said in the press release.

“The best part about these pianos is the creative outlet that they provide for anyone who wants to play a tune or two — and then seeing the crowd gather in support.” 

The Town of Cobourg added its thanks to the three artists for their hard work and beautiful craftsmanship, and to the piano donors for their generous contribution.