This just in: Vandals damage Mass Ave’s ‘Artful Piano’

The Artful Piano was damaged sometime over the Labor Day weekend.

Vandals have struck a piece of unique and interactive public art which stands outside the District Theater in the 600 block of Mass Ave.

The vandalism has left IndyFringe, which unveiled the “Artful Piano” in June, looking not only for experts to repair the piano but also the funds to underwrite the effort.

“The Artful Piano has been nothing but a joy to thousands of people who have played, tinkered and wondered at its history,” said IndyFringe CEO Pauline Moffat. “How sad we were to see that vandals this weekend played havoc with the Artful Piano.”

The piano, which dates to 1880, was a gift from a donor who wanted the piano to bring life to Mass Ave, Moffat said. She said that in 2011 the Central Indiana Community Fund’s Women’s Fund had local artists decorate the piano.

Subsequently, the donor who bought the piano wanted people to enjoy it over the summer on Mass Ave, Moffat said. “We have seen the homeless play for hours and make tips, passerby amaze us with their talent, families sing-a-long, a 70-year old played rock tunes, Fringe artists entertained the lines waiting for shows …. 

“We had hoped the Artful Piano would demonstrate that this sort of outdoor interactive space builds community,” Moffat continued. “Day in and day out we saw how it worked.

“I now have to find the funds and of course an artisan who can repair an 1880 piano,” she said, comparing the Artful Piano to another piece of public art which required a recent fund-raiser. “We can watch Ann Dancing,” she said, “but you can’t interact with her.”

Moffat said plans were to place more than one Artful Piano in public spaces for next year’s IndyFringe Festival, “which would have made a wonderful interactive event on Mass Ave. Art is for the people. We just hope we can bring the piano and some the other pianos from this project back to Mass Ave  in 2020.”