Sing for Hope is a nonprofit that has brought their public piano art program to Los Angeles for the first time in partnership with the City of Beverly Hills and The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Mar Vista artist participates in city beautification community project

By Kamala Kirk

Local Mar Vista artist Çiğdem Akbay recently participated in Sing for Hope in Beverly Hills, a public art piano art program by New York nonprofit Sing for Hope. Sing for Hope brought their program to Los Angeles for the first time in partnership with the City of Beverly Hills and The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

“I learned about the organization from a friend who saw the call for artists and encouraged me to apply,” Akbay said. “We were previously in the same Arts for LA’s Activate cohort where we learned a lot about public art and civic engagement. I love anything and everything to do with the arts, especially public art and collaborative community art that engages children and is tactile. I’ve worked at a local elementary school over the years so I also really appreciate how Sing for Hope donates all the pianos to schools. The creativity sparked in kids provides them with joyful, social emotional learning tools in a much-needed time.”

Akbay was among 16 local LA artists selected to paint 16 pianos in Beverly Hills that were launched at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on Aug. 5. Since then, they’ve been distributed throughout Beverly Hills parks where they’ll remain for public use until Sept. 6, then all the pianos will be donated to local schools.”

“The design I submitted for my piano was inspired by school supply boxes I painted for students during the quarantine,” Akbay said.

”When working on projects for kids I love using bright, happy colors that stand out and make you smile. Purple has been a recurrent color in my life and is symbolic in many ways. It’s a color loaded with differing semiotics depending on who you ask. I was fascinated by all the shades of purple I saw painted on buildings throughout my travels in India. To me it’s feminine, it’s power, enlightenment, a stance against male violence against women, as well as a stunning statement made by strong leaders in our country’s last inauguration.”

The title of Akbay’s piano is “Çiçekli Piyano,” which in Turkish translates to “Piano with Flowers” and reflects her Turkish-American heritage. She also painted evil eye designs that are commonly found in Turkey and Greece and are superstitiously known to ward off evil spirits. Akbay’s piano is located at Reeves Mini Park in Beverly Hills, which is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“The best part of the experience was getting to meet the Sing for Hope crew and all of the talented, supportive artists with diverse backgrounds, styles and techniques,” Akbay said. “Sing for Hope and the City of Beverly Hills provided us with a great central studio space so it was nice to be able to paint while getting feedback and learning from other artists. After a few weeks you start to feel like family in such a space so I do miss that part a lot. The launch event at The Wallis was also incredible. They managed to bring together multiple art forms in such beautiful ways.”

Several pop-up concerts are planned at various pianos until Sept. 6 and anyone can create a pop-up of their own. More information about upcoming concerts can be found at singforhope.org.

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