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At the end of last summer I led a class with holistic health coach Traci Philips where we used essential oils as writing prompts. The class was structured for any creative person, not just writers. One of the attendees, an artist, had moved to the area from Connecticut a few months before. At the time of the class, Barbara Hengstenberg had just been invited to paint a piano for our town.

I didn’t think our town could be more adorable, but then Barbara told me about the painted street piano and my skepticism dissolved. I’ve written before how much I love our town of Pittsboro. We have the biannual Shakori Hills Music Festival, a wonderful Town Lake Park trail (where I recently did the wild edibles tree ramble), a quaint library walking trail, and a few fine foodie spots.

The last time I wrote about our town was a few months ago, exploring Pittsboro’s connection with The Revenant. Now I invite you to explore where this piano came from, who made this possible, and how music just can’t seem to escape Barbara’s art.

My latest article in Indy Week: “What’s This Painted Piano Doing on the Street in Pittsboro?”


street piano

The piano painted white with just a few initial designs…

A few fun facts not included in the article:

Paul Horne, Pittsboro Parks Planner who facilitated the project, loved the wood carvings on the piano legs so much he asked Barbara not to paint them. Leaving them au naturel inspired a design–which you can read about in the article.

The piano has a long history with the piano donors, Angela and Jesse Crisp-Sears. The piano came from Jesse’s side of the family and had belonged to his grandfather, a “very accomplished pianist.”

Pittsboro street piano

The artist and the finished piece!