For two Greenwich artists, the inspiration began with a visit to the Faust Harrison Piano store and factory in White Plains, N.Y. As Shauna Holiman and Penny Putnam strolled the floor, they were surrounded by piano parts and innards -- the keys, the hammers, the pedals, the wires.
Both artists had the same idea.
"We thought, let's do something with the strings, with the ivories -- and the ideas evolved," says Holiman.
That evolution led to a collaborative effort, "Piano as Art," where the two would use piano parts to create works of art. The resulting sculptures, collages and photographs -- full of wit, humor and imaginative design -- are the subject of "Piano Pieces," an exhibition at the Flinn Gallery at Greenwich Library, which is on display through May 3.
Holiman and Putnam began working on their creations using throw-away piano pieces given to them by Sara Faust, who heads Faust Harrison. (She would later donate a couple of old baby grands to the artists. )
Meeting every Monday the two began putting the pieces together. Ideas flowed between them. "We know we're onto something if one of us says, `Wouldn't it be fun if ... ?'" Holiman says.
One of the larger pieces they created, "Elegy," which is on display at the Flinn, is made of 1,640 pieces of ivory, Holiman says, taken from the piano keys of 32 retired pianos. She describes the different shades of ivory in the work and says, "Its first life was with elephants, its second life with a piano, and its third life as art."
Holiman and Putnam met four years ago as members of the Greenwich Art Society, and they come from different backgrounds. Holiman is a singer and cellist with classical music training, and Putnam's background is in graphic design. Both, however, gravitated towards painting -- until that trip to the Faust Harrison piano shop.
Their completed artworks made their debut in the Faust Harrison showroom last October. After the exhibition at the Flinn Gallery, they are scheduled to move into Faust Harrison's Manhattan showroom.
A short film documentary on view at the Flinn, tells the visual story of how their "Piano as Art" collaborative process has clearly opened new creative doors for the pair. "We both learned how to do things we wouldn't have done individually," says Holiman.
Whether or not they'll soon return to their painting is up in the air. Meanwhile, the two are having to fend off the numerous requests -- from people wanting to unload their old pianos. "We've been offered at least a dozen," says Holiman.
For more information about the exhibit, visit flinngallery.com. For more on"Piano as Art," visit www.pianoasart.com or email email@example.com.