WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Six summers ago, Greenwich artist Shauna Holiman toured a Faust Harrison Piano factory while buying a Steinway. The woodworking stations, internal wiring and ivory keys stuck with Holiman, who transformed the piano parts into elegies to elephants, a sculpture of a critic and a few paintings with fellow Greenwich artist Penny Putnam.
The duo's "Piano As Art" exhibit debuted in the newly opened Faust Harrison Piano Factory and Showroom of White Plains on Monday. A formal gallery opening will be held at the 214 Central Ave. showroom Jan. 26. The dozens of sculptures and handful of paintings will travel to the Flinn Gallery in Greenwich and the Faust Harrison Pianos' Manhattan showroom.
Holiman said she and Putnam were struck with the same idea after touring the Faust Harrison Pianos' Dobbs Ferry factory about three years ago.
"The two of us went over there half intending to make some paintings of pianos. We started looking at all of that stuff and said to each other, 'We dont want to make paintings out of this. We want to make stuff out of these beautiful pieces that are just laying around and get thrown away and whatever,"' said Holiman.
The company, which specializes in renovating and selling Steinways and other high-end pianos, sent the pair two pianos, which the artists dissected every Monday in Putnam's garage.
"We got a bunch of tools and attacked the pianos and took them apart and looked at all those wonderful shapes and just responded to the materials," Holiman said. "Were not signing our names to anything individually because it was a total collaboration. We jumped out of what we usually do and created a whole new movement together."
Their "Piano As Art" collection was documented in a book, which the two used to display their work to the company. Sara Faust, a former classical piano soloist who co-founded the Faust Harrison Pianos company about 25 years ago, said the pieces were a perfect fit for the walls of the White Plains showroom.
"How appropriate is it to have this beautiful artwork in a showroom, a factory, and a venue for concerts?" said Faust, an Irvington resident.
Recycling piano parts is difficult because they often contain wood, felt, metal and combinations of other materials. However, Faust said she's pleased that some schools that have toured the "Piano As Art" exhibit have been inspired to collect the White Plains factory's scraps to work on art projects.
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