Some heart and soul in downtown Fruita |

Some heart and soul in downtown Fruita

Fruita resident Kyle Harvey plays the piano with his stepdaughter, Paige Stickney. This outdoor art installation was conceived by Harvey to further develop Fruita's sense of community downtown.
Caitlin Row / | Free Press

You can touch it, sit on it and use its keys to create dulcet tones.

Fruita’s new interactive art installation, an outdoor piano, is already attracting attention with its colorful appearance under the awning at the Cavalcade on Aspen Avenue. It will likely stay outside all year round, though some protection from the elements will occur if needed.

Rye Gallery owner and Fruita poet Kyle Harvey hand-painted the large musical instrument, decorated it with handprints and placed it outside the community performance center Thursday, Sept. 26, right before Fruita Fall Festival weekend.

“We have seen a lot of people stop and play the piano since it has been put in front of Cavalcade,” the Cavalcade’s daily operational manager Jeannine Purser said. “Everybody loves it!”

“I was at a meeting at Cavalcade last Wednesday morning and, as kids heading to Shelledy Elementary passed by, they all took the time to play a little tune,” Purser added. “It was wonderful!”

According to Harvey, public art — particularly something that’s interactive — creates a sense of community, and it’s something he’d like to do more of in Fruita. Plus, kids aren’t intimidated by musical instruments, so it’s a found object they’ll want to use.

“When I picked up the piano,” which was donated by Grand Junction resident Nicole Garcia, “it just seemed like a natural fit,” Harvey said. “Ideally, I’d like to have more pianos around town, too. I think the response has been great.”

Harvey also teams up with various Aspen Avenue businesses to post original poetry in their windows for passersby to read.

“I’m looking for more businesses to participate,” he noted. “I’d like to take it a step further by putting poems in public parks and maybe even in alleyways, where people are unsuspecting.”

Both the piano and poems are just the start of Harvey’s vision for a downtown “Colorado Creative District” in Fruita. As a member of the city’s Arts & Culture Board, he’s currently initiating steps to find out if Fruita could apply for funding that would assist in promoting arts and culture throughout town.

“There’s a lengthy evaluation process, and I’m starting to form a sub-committee” made up of members from Fruita’s Arts & Culture Board, its Downtown Advisory Board and its Historic Preservation Board, Harvey explained.

In the meantime, he’s on the search for more pianos to decorate for the community.

“The piano is a perfect example of what we want to see happening downtown,” said Purser, who’s on the Downtown Advisory Board. “Anytime people have a reason to stop and linger in the downtown Fruita area, it’s a good thing. The piano absolutely gives people a reason to stop. Kyle is also the person who helped give legs to the Fruita Fourth Friday idea, so it’s always fun to see what Kyle Harvey will come up with next.”

To visit and play the piano, head to the Cavalcade at 201 E. Aspen Ave. in Fruita.

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