The piano painted by artist Deryk Houston and his young helpers at Monterey middle school. It will be among those dotting the Oak Bay landscape as public art.

Pianos invite you to express yourself

Oak Bay arts laureate Barbara Adams can’t wait for the first #OBpaintedpiano selfie

Oak Bay arts laureate Barbara Adams can’t wait for the first #OBpaintedpiano selfie.

The hashtag’s premature perhaps, but the pianos are at the ready, freshly tuned last week and put in place this week for flash mobs, wedding proposals, or impromptu concerts.

Adams scoured online listings in search of pianos to have artists paint for placement in the public this summer and even got one donated. Then the three instruments were sent to local schools where artists worked alongside students to complete the artwork.

“I wanted the kids to be part of it,” said Adams, a former Monterey school arts teacher. “They’re not afraid of art.”

At Monterey Middle school, where Adams developed a thriving arts program, Deryk Houston painted a piano and allowed students to sign their name.

“The students took a few days to realize why a piano was being painted, then not only did it draw interest, but the artist, Deryk Houston, was engaging with the students and their intrigue with him as a story teller in paint,” said Monterey principal Judy Harrison.

It didn’t take long for the musically inclined students to discover the completed colourful piano in the foyer.

“I was delightedly disturbed when I heard students playing a few melodies as they came or went through the doors,” Harrison said. “This summer, I hope to catch some of our students visiting it again at the sea.”

Houston’s work on the piano is called “Imagine” and it will be stationed at Oliver Street and Beach Drive.

Robert Amos’ “Sub Quercu Felicitas” (from the Oak Bay coat of arms) painted alongside kids from Oak Bay High will be stationed at Oak Bay Avenue and Foul Bay Road. Crystal Heath’s “Boom Box” will be at Willows beach on the esplanade, not far from Willows elementary where she did her work with young students.

“You’ve got two months, use them,” Adams said, in essence firing the starting pistol.


What hashtag will you use to tweet your selfie? Let us know by email at



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