by Andrew Crisp
Boiseans flocked to a free-to-play street piano on Eighth Street last week. But few knew that Ryan Smith, the founder of Stay Weird Boise, had purchased and prepped the bright-white instrument himself.
"We want to make this an even more interesting place," said Smith.
He enlisted Dunkley's Music to move the piano and asked the owners of Aspen Leaf frozen yogurt to host it on their patio. On Friday, Aug. 17, passersby stopped to hammer out a tune on the black and whites.
Smith said he started stayweirdboise.com with his wife, Tess, just for fun after the couple visited Boise's outdoor Freak Alley Gallery. Smith said he wanted to contribute to Boise's weirdness in some way. It began with a blog, then expanded to a Facebook page, and then came the free-to-play street piano.
"It's all about adding to Boise and contributing any way we can," said Smith, who works in Web marketing at Scentsy.
Smith said he took the cue for a street piano from nearby Denver. Now he hopes to expand with more pianos and other usable public art, he said.
"I'd love to get between six and eight downtown, with four on Eighth Street," said Smith. "Whether we hit that number before fall comes, we'll see."
He also hopes more businesses and individuals will become interested in Stay Weird Boise and help contribute to future projects. Smith hopes for public games, like pop-up shuffleboard or checkers—something people can interact with.
Smith said he would love to place pianos in Grove Plaza, near Subway and Jamba Juice on Eighth Street and in the BODO area. During the winter, the pianos would be moved inside willing businesses or office buildings—or to Smith's garage.