Keys to the Cities; 18 pianos and lots of fun!

Is that a baby grand? We gleefully bounded off the trolley like excited kids. To our delight it was a baby grand; bright blue, top open, sitting outside against the backdrop of flowing fountains and lit by the lights of the Kravis Center. The cushy piano bench was even covered in glitter.

Oh yeah, we’re definitely playing this one!! Playing a few simple tunes under the stars, in such an opulent setting was truly unforgettable. We definitely played better here; must’ve been the awesome venue…..

If you’re wondering how you can just walk up and play a piano in front of the Kravis Center, it’s quite easy. There are 18 pianos on display to benefit children’s charities in Palm Beach County; “Eighteen used baby grand and upright pianos are being donated by the Kretzer Piano Music Foundation and local residents. School groups and professionals will be performing periodically, but the main message is that everyone is invited and everyone can play! After their public debut, the pianos will be donated to local children’s charities and community organizations, enriching lives for years to come”

The Palm Beach County’s Art in Public Places program assisted the Kretzer Foundation in developing the Call to Artists for the project and promoted the Call to Artists to 1000+ local artists in the County’s Artist Registry. As the County’s Public Art Administrator, Elayna Toby Singer was one of three judges who selected the piano art designs and connected the Kretzer Foundation to Palm Beach Counties Parks and Recreation dept. which resulted in them placing one of the pianos at Carlin Park.

Our mission was to find as many pianos as we could around downtown WPB. The fun part of the story is I have not played the piano for longer than I’ll admit in writing. I had invited my musician friend to come play while I filmed and took photos. However, that plan dramatically changed at the first stop, City Place, when my friend stated; “I’m not playing unless you play”. I really wanted to revisit the piano, but I figured I’d start in the comfort of my own home, not in the middle of City Place!

After some gracious training, I was able to join in on some simple duets and had fun. I can’t believe I just played at City Place by the fountains! After that, I was hooked and it was time to find more.

The hardest piano to find was the one on Worth Avenue. It’s tucked back in one of the alcoves; exactly where the ghost tour tells haunted stories. 11:30pm, on a windy, almost stormy night, and we played a piano in a supposed haunted area.

A few oddities occurred that made us both go “hmmm……maybe this place is really haunted”. Then, out of nowhere, a guy briskly walked by calling out for his wife and dog! Ironically, we had just seen a lady walking a dog on the sidewalk. Or did we….where these real or apparitions? Who/what else wanders Worth Ave at almost midnight? We carried on with our tunes, but after one more odd noise, we left, promptly!

We managed to find five of the 18 pianos: Clematis by the fountains, the waterfront near the docks, City Place near the fountains, in front of the Kravis Center and Worth Avenue. If you’ve ever dreamed of playing keyboard in some fun outdoor locations, this is the perfect opportunity. Even if you don’t play, come out and enjoy the artfully decorated masterpieces.

For a list of locations:

Owahee Boardwalk Video

Often when you venture off the beaten path you find some amazing places. Here’s a video of a long boardwalk I found that traverses a couple of ecosystems.
Enjoy the ride and keep exploring!

Apoxee Park

As I was soaking up the serenity of nature, I was amazed at how quiet it was considering the proximity to busy civilization.   Natural areas within the city limits are a great respite from the city, but they often can’t escape the noise of the city. Somehow this park did and it was nice to fully immerse myself in the surroundings without the distractions of civilization.  apoxee water

The park is named Apoxee Park.  Apoxee (pronounced Ah-po-ee) means Beyond Tomorrow in the Miccosukee language and is the first of the City of West Palm Beach’s urban wilderness parks. Unique to the park is they use the wetlands to provide a new water supply (maximum 10 million gallons per day) in order to achieve both urban and environmental water sustainability.

apoxee owlFrom the parking lot, the trail is paved and shortly after provides two options; a paved loop or a dirt path to the right.  The paved portion is a short loop through pine and oak trees.  If you go in the late afternoon, you’ll hear the calls of the Great Horned owls echoing through the trees.  I was lucky to actually see and photograph both of them.  It is amazing that such a large, majestic bird can fly so silently.

You can walk the paved path in about ten minutes or so depending on if the owls are there. The dirt path is a much longer trail that is suitable for hiking and biking.

The dirt path is narrow and tree lined with occasional openings to catch a glimpse of the water.  A boardwalk here and there provides unobstructed views of the lakes.  Benches are strategically placed along the way to sit and enjoy the view of the water or just enjoy the sunshine. One of these benches amidst some trees was the perfect lunch spot.

Shortly after crossing the power line road, the trail forks and fortunately there is a big sign and a map. I took the right loop and found a long L – shaped boardwalk that traverses one of the lakes. Throughout the water is a variety of plant life that provides a carpet like covering on the bottom. The plant life is so thick in areas, it looks like small canyons under water.  Most rivers in the area have tannin (decaying plant material) so the water isn’t clear. Here the water is crystal clear and all the fish, plants and other inhabitants were visible.

The boardwalk dead ends into another tree lined dirt trail which is flat, straight and the perfect place to ride a bike. According to the map this trail stretches for  few miles if not more.  On the other side of this trail is another lake full of lily pads, birds and trees.  The serene view, gentle wind through the trees, and warm sun made for perfect place to just relax.  A strategically placed bench was the perfect place to hang out and enjoy the view. apoxee trail

According to the map, the trails extend for many more miles so I’ll be back with my bike to continue exploring and will provide an update.   Apoxee park is a nice oasis for a gentle walk, a medium hike, biking, or birding all right in the middle of town.

Here’s a short video of the boardwalk:

For more info on the park:

Norton Art After Dark

That’s a guitar? I tilted my head and eventually saw it. Art is always subject to interpretation and this evening was no exception as I explored the Norton’s Art After Dark series. With the time change upon us I thought it timely to explore indoor excursions.

As a photographer, I find it interesting to see other people’s perspectives and in an art museum, you see quite a variety.  Like the long black acrylic plank leaning against the wall which was part of the West Coast Minimalism movement. Art After Dark

Or the 8 foot by 8 foot gunmetal grey square, with squiggly lines at the bottom and protruding dots at the top. I guessed something at night and was close. The artist’s depiction is of the beach, ocean and a starry night.

As I continue, I enjoy the mental challenge and enjoy how different artists break the normal rules; like the clay sculpture with finger impressions to convey the artist’s role in the creation.

History is always interesting and art has plenty.  For example, I didn’t know that Picasso and Braque developed the Cubism style in 1900. They challenged the Renaissance concept that a painting should present a subject from a single point of view. They looked at their subjects as if they were seen from multiple perspectives and then composed accordingly. See, now those pictures make sense.

Art After DarkI also found it interesting the effect of world events on art.  Paintings during the World Wars often were dark to convey the sadness and emotion of the times. Some were optimistic, but you didn’t know the interpretation till you read the accompanying story.  A picture is worth a thousand words but the artist’s story behind it is priceless.

In addition to browsing the three different floors of the gallery, there was a short tour on surrealism, an artist’s talk, and a jazz band on the lower level.

Art After Dark is every Thursday night with a different theme. Doors are open from 5-9pm and the cost is $12. County residents have free admission to the museum at the following times though:

Palm Beach County residents receive FREE admission on the first Saturday of every month. *
West Palm Beach residents receive FREE admission every Saturday. *

* Must present valid photo ID

Philip Hulitar Sculpture Gardens

What do you do during lunch? Surf the internet? Seriously, you do that all day long anyway.  It’s time to get out of the office and enjoy some fresh air. If you work near the downtown West Palm Beach,  we have the perfect place to enjoy lunch. It’s also open on the weekends so now you have somewhere to go this weekend.

The sculpture gardens are another shining example of preserving the land and yet allowing public enjoyment.  You’ll have to read the interesting history, but some of the contributors included; Mrs. Folger, Mr. and Mrs. F. Warrington Gillet, Jr., and Marjorie Whittemore to name a few.

Located due east of the Society of the Four Arts and surrounded by a fence, it’s not readily visible. An open wrought iron gate is your only clue. Quick side note, can you name the Four Arts? Answer at the end, so no skipping ahead!

As the name implies, the sculpture garden contains an eclectic mix of landscapes and art. Immerse yourself in the tropical plants and pools of the Chinese garden. Stand in wonder at the funky art reaching skyward and wonder just what defines art and why you didn’t think of that.

Step inside the large pavilion with the gigantic fruit art and the fountain flowing from the kids’ statue faces. Sit under one of the trellis areas and enjoy the shade. Or go all the way into the NE corner and sit in the solitude of the trees. Back here you’re also out of view of the general public so it’s like having the place to yourself.

The gardens are free and open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm. Ok, so here’s the answer to the Four Arts: Art, Music, Drama, and Literature.

For more information: