Ever since Hurricane Sandy devastated Seaside Heights in 2012, Josie Olivier has been thinking of ways to deliver positive energy to the community.
Originally from Denver, Colo., Olivier, 38, lived in Seaside Heights with her husband, Neal, and two sons, Aven and Arlo, before Sandy struck.
Living on the island “was incredible for me having lived land locked my whole life,” she said. “I could now just walk to the ocean!”
After moving inland and watching Seaside Heights struggle in the wake of Sandy, Olivier, who is a neurofeedback clinician during the day, felt a calling to deliver something to the boardwalk that would generate interactivity and positivity.
Then something clicked.
She says she had the idea of placing pianos on the boardwalk “for years,” adding that the Sandy recovery put the project on hold.
Enter the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover, a major music festival that kicks off on the beach in Seaside Heights today.
The “Painted Piano Project” was born.
“About a month ago, I was talking to Nick Dionisio (owner of Park Seafood on the boardwalk) about the idea, and he immediately put me in contact with Chris Vaz (the borough’s business administrator),” she said. “He was excited about the project and thought it would be a perfect fit for the Gentleman of the Road Stopover over this weekend.”
And with the borough’s blessing, she started to paint.
“Now with the three pianos ready to go, I cannot wait to see how people respond to them this weekend,” Olivier said gleefully.
It’s one part art, one part interaction.
“My hope is that people young and old see them as interactive works of art and will sit down and play,” she stressed. “I hope that people will take photos and video of their interactions with them and tag #thepaintedpianoproject.”
The pianos are located on the boardwalk at Blaine Avenue, Franklin Avenue, and Lincoln Avenue.
Olivier hopes that the Painted Piano Project will inspire other artists and spark additional ideas for the public space.
“I hope that they survive the weekend and remain on the boards the remainder of the summer,” she said.
“Ultimately, I would love to see the Painted Piano Project return every summer and include other artists working to create collections of painted pianos.”