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Red Deer Advocate - Entertainment
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Making music, offering canvas for steampunk artwork

Music from a steampunk-inspired piano will soon fill Ross Street in downtown Red Deer.

And patio lovers are invited to watch the artist at work.

Artist Carmen Winter, who painted the geisha images as part of the Little Gaetz Street art project, has been tasked with giving the street piano a new look.

A new piano was installed under the bus shelter last week.

Winter said she wanted to delve into “steampunking,” which will combine paint and recycled scrap metal for the project.

Steampunking is where you take the steam engine-era ideas and styles and apply them to modern things.

Winter’s hope is to transform the modern-day piano into the image of a steam-powered piano from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Winter said she wanted to do something that has never been done in Red Deer.

“I wanted to step it up and raise the bar for Red Deer’s art,” said Winter. “I wanted to step outside the box and do something other than paint.”

The preliminary designs have been completed but the final outcome will depend on the availability of parts that she hopes to procure through donations.

“Things to make it look like you had to crank it to make it go or pump a foot pedal to make it go,” said Winter.

Winter is looking for items such as old plumbing supplies, fasteners, handles, gears, wires, metal flashing, pipes, fittings and other scrap metals for the project.

Any business that is willing to donate to the project will have their business name put up on the bus shelter that protects the piano.

She expects the project will take a couple months to complete. Winter will be working on the project so residents taking in the Ross Street Patio will be able to chat with her.

A piano has been on Ross Street since the summer of 2010, when Steve Woolrich, a local security consultant, donated it to the community.

Woolrich said the original piano performed well over the four years but the wear and tear, and the sun, damaged it.

Woolrich said Red Deer’s was the first outdoor street piano in Canada. The pianos are meant to be an activity generator and a piece of art.

“We are just looking forward to another great summer downtown and all the great musicians who play it,” said Woolrich. “It’s just a great thing to have downtown.”

Now there are pianos in Calgary and Cochrane. This week he is heading to Edmonton to help the person who is bringing five pop-up pianos to city streets.

To donate parts to the Red Deer project, contact Carmen at or 403-505-9476.

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