artist: ALTernative       
date commissioned: 2013
location: Traveling public artwork

Cell Tour:  614-368-6999, stop 17

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Playing Through is an interactive street piano and original piece of public art enhanced with a golf-inspired theme. This public artwork was created by ALTernative, a Columbus-based artist collaborative led by Tim Lai and Eliza Ho during the summer of 2013.

“The design takes the cue from a golf ball and the dimples on its surface. Multiplying hundreds of golf balls, the design creates a circle field and web-like pattern that looks seemingly repetitive yet with rhythm, like music notes. The circles also convey a sense of pop art that is whimsical and fun to look at. The fountain blue stain in the background reveals the beautiful wood grains of the piano and gives a sense of lightness that plays off the bulkiness of the  musical instrument. The color also lends itself to the idea of water, alluding to the Scioto River in Dublin,” says Eliza Ho of ALTernative. Ho realized the artwork with the assistance of her husband, Tim Lai, and pop artist Joss Parker of Columbus.

The inspiration for Playing Through came from the concept of street pianos placed in communities to encourage public interaction. Playing Through will transcend language with music and welcome people of all nationalities and ages to sit down and play a song.

While players will be scheduled to play the street piano at select times, the most engaging aspect of the interactive artwork will consist of simply leaving the piano in a public space, with an open invitation for all to sit down and take a turn at the keyboard.

The piano has become a legacy public artwork and is strategically placed throughout the city in highly visible indoor and outdoor public spaces as well as community events.

Playing Through was commissioned in celebration of The Presidents Cup, hosted at Dublin’s Muirfield Village Golf Club Oct. 1-6, 2013.

About the artists
ALTernative, a non-profit organization, promotes art and design to enhance the environment and improve quality of life. This arts collaborative was founded by Tim Lai and Eliza Ho in 2011.

ALTernative engages the community throughout the artistic process. Upon being commissioned for this project, ALTernative connected with the community to gather thoughts, memories and inspiration for the design.

About street pianos
While street pianos may date back to the barrel piano of 19th century England, modern history cites a notable occurrence in 2005 in Sheffield, England when a piano’s owner couldn’t face moving his piano up the steps of his new home. He left the instrument temporarily on the pavement next to the steps with a sign made from the remains of a cardboard box with black marking pen instructions proclaiming “Street Piano – feel free to play any time between 9am and 9pm.” It was intended as a temporary measure, but struck a note, so to speak, with the public, resulting in solo and group players flocking to interact with the instrument.

Playing Through is now on view primarily at Dublin Arts Council. Please stop in any time for a turn at the keyboard. Interested in booking the piano? Please give us a call at 614.889.7444 or email

Have you spotted the piano?
Dublin Arts Council (@DublinArts) encourages social sharing of photos and video: #PlayingThrough.