Artist’s work strikes a chord with musical icon

Saanich artist pays tribute to Elton John with decorated piano outside Royal Victoria Yacht Club

Saanich artist Sherryl Hustins has been turning some heads with her Elton John piano at Loon Bay Park. The piano - painted as part of a public art initiative – features a handful of nods to the flashy singer’s songs

Who better than Sir Elton John to model a piano after?

That’s what Saanich artist Sherryl Hustins thought when she was selected as one of three artists to paint pianos for display in Oak Bay.

“It really was the first image that came to my mind when I read the email,” said Hustins. “He’s so widely known for his piano work – also Billy Joel, but Elton has a bigger personality, he’s more widely known, lots of fun.

“I have painted several musical icons on canvas and I thought this would be a great opportunity for a 3D installation.”

The creative initiative – started by Oak Bay arts laureate Barbara Adams – reached Hustins’ ears through an artists’ call, and she was accepted while she was an artist in residence at the Sidney Pier Hotel. As soon as that ended, she got to work on redecorating a piano in tribute to the five-time Grammy Award winner.

The upright 88 is decked out in sparkly spectacles and features six nods to the piano man’s chart-topping career, including Yellow Brick Road, Rocket Man and Candle in the Wind. Hustins even captured some of John’s more distinct facial features, such as the gap between his two front teeth.

“I had bigger plans even than what the piano turned out to be, but you had to consider the elements. I toned it down, but the response has still been amazing,” she said.

In an effort to engage children through art – one of the objectives of the program – Hustins painted her piano at Monterey middle school for all the kids to see. Dozens of students talked to her about her work while hundreds of eyeballs watched her every brushstroke.

“The children were just so enthralled with what I was doing and so supportive,” she said. “They had no idea who Elton John was, so that started a conversation with their parents and their teachers, and then they’d come back the next day and start singing Elton John songs. I just think it was awesome that it started some conversation.

“I really enjoyed watching them gain some knowledge and interest in a figure they’ve never heard of before.”

Now that the paint has dried, the piano is on display next to the Royal Victoria Yacht Club in Loon Bay Park. Hustins said she often sits on the bench or the grass nearby and watches as people are drawn to her work.

“It’s just amazing to watch the same progression: Car after car, people driving along, you see their brake lights come on and their heads turn,” she said. “In many cases, they’ll stop, get out, take pictures. Invariably someone in the group will play the piano, or try, and it’s just awesome.

“Sometimes I will identify myself and then people are thrilled, they ask for my autograph, they want pictures with me,” she added with a laugh. “It’s been over the top but wonderfully over the top. I love seeing the joy that it brings – that’s what drives me as an artist.”

 

The piano is on display for the rest of August and is set to be auctioned off in September. Money raised from the sale of the piano will go toward future Oak Bay arts projects.

 

 

Just Posted

Saanich resident leads crusade against cigarettes in B.C. drugstores

Province allows drugstores to sell cigarettes and some feel policy should change, retailers disagree

Saanich councillor fears weed could crowd out food as greenhouses convert

Head of provincial association representing greenhouse vegetable farmers not worried about issue

PHOTOS: India Mela celebrates culture, dance and food

The annual downtown event brought culture and fun together

Residential construction activity slows across Greater Victoria

Vancouver Island Construction Association warns of ‘mixed outlook’

VICTORIA FRINGE FEST: There’s always something new to discover on stage

33rd annual live theatre festival has numerous styles and topics to choose from

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft: RCMP

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Margaret Atwood talks Handmaid’s Tale sequel at UVic

Sold-out Sept. 27 event illustrates iconic Canadian author’s popularity in literary haven of Victoria

Hearings begin as Vancouver Island mom fights for allegedly abducted daughter

Tasha Brown now in Jersey in the British Isles, fundraiser being held in Nanaimo

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

VIDEO: RCMP unveil new, state-of-the-art forensics lab

The laboratory is expected to handle thousands of forensic services from across Canada annually

Scheer promises EI tax credit for new parents if Conservatives form government

The government currently taxes employment insurance benefits for new parents

B.C. seizes 1.5M grams contraband tobacco, down from 5.75M grams the year prior

The 2019-2020 seizures were a sharp drop compared to the 2018-2019 year,

B.C. Speaker tight-lipped about aide’s legislature security tour

B.C. Liberals question Alan Mullen’s drive across Canada, U.S.

Most Read