Artists News

Tyson Reeder, Piano Man

Tyson Reeder's Piano Party at CANADA. Photo: Phil Grauer.

Tyson Reeder’s Piano Party at CANADA.


On a rainy afternoon last Sunday, Tyson Reeder turned the main room of Lower East Side gallery Canada into a chilled-out jam session. For his one-day-only “Piano Party” event, Reeder’s casually ecstatic paintings and sculpture (his show “New Paintings” is on view until February 15) sat alongside Moroccan rugs and keyboards of all stripes, inviting anyone and everyone to come out and play.

Already installed in the show (and, according to Reeder, one of the impetuses behind the party) was a very clean double piano sculpture that housed two small keyboards, perfect for duets. In addition, everything from primitive Casios to an actual baby grand–nestled in the corner of the room next to a xylophone and gong—were strewn across the rug-covered floor.

The day’s messily undulating musicality fell somewhere between the keyboard showroom at Guitar Center and a warehouse noise show. “This is like heaven for children,” someone was overheard saying, and there were plenty of those in attendance–at one point one took a turn at the baby grand, firing off some piano recital grade material to a supportive audience.

“I walked in, and it was already pretty dissonant, so it was like, ‘Oh, it’s gonna be that kind of party,'” said Peter Schuette, formally of the bands Silk Flowers and Theusaisamonster, who contributed a synth from his personal stash to the proceedings. (Schuette was invited to the party by Providence-turned-Brooklyn musician Rich Porter, who provided Reeder with technical assistance and some extra gear. Porter’s corner of the room contained the most heavy-duty equipment, and at points sounded pretty harsh.)

Reeder, who in the past has set up a beach-painting club, an art fair in the dark, and “the world’s smallest comedy club” (often in collaboration with his brother Scott and sister-in-law Elysia), is no stranger to shoehorning offbeat fun into the white cube. He painted the poster for “Piano Party” and recorded the event for a future vinyl record.

“The idea is you just have a social framework, and some sort of blind faith in it… If you set up those conditions, then generally cool shit happens after that,” Reeder said.

Reeder told us that the Japanese band Boredoms’ “Boadrum” series—in which up to 111 drummers play simultaneously—was an inspiration. “Piano Party,” however, is a “perverse reversal of that,” Reeder explained. “Instead of low end, it’s just for true treble heads. I always thought super treble was a funny idea, instead of super bass.”

At times the hum of conversation threatened to drown out that super treble, placing emphasis on the “party” part of “Piano Party,” only natural given the room’s comfortable surroundings and beautiful rugs—which, by the way, were for sale.

“If anyone needs a carpet you can talk to me and my wife Katherine Bernhardt,” announced the rug dealer Youssef Jdia over the microphone. Jdia was in jovial spirits that afternoon, taking exuberant turns on the mic, xylophone, and a very amplified keytar. Although Reeder was recording the event for a future record, actually sitting down and listening to the thing would be a pretty abstract proposition. As the program wound down, a keyboard blasted out a preset demo of Wham’s eternal “Last Christmas” and New York artist James Franklin took a turn at the piano.

“I think it was good,” said the artist Brian Belott, who was seen attempting to unplug at least one particularly abrasive performer during the afternoon. “I just think [Reeder] should have a conductor, where you can tell people to shut the fuck up at times.”

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