The Pianos of Petaluma Expo hits the perfect cord with visual arts and the sound of music

PETALUMA, Calif. -- Before the COVID pandemic, John Maher, better known as Petaluma Pete, would spend his Friday and Saturday nights playing piano on the streets of downtown Petaluma. Over the years, his love of music inspired him to spread pianos all over the downtown.

"I actually started the Pianos of Petaluma project about 10 years ago with the intention of just giving people the opportunity to play," Maher explains. "Let people experiment on the instrument."

When the Petaluma River needed to be dredged, Maher visualized his pianos as the perfect canvas to generate awareness.

"The thought behind having the pianos painted in the first place was to ask the artists to do a river theme so we could draw attention to the fact that the turning basin was in dire need of repair--the trestle still needs to be rehabilitated," Maher reveals.

When the pandemic came, spreading the music and the message ended.

"When COVID came, into the warehouse they went. But it was a sad deal for sure because a lot of people really did enjoy playing," Maher recalls. "And standing in the middle of all those pianos, I thought, 'Holy smoke! How cool would it be to have these all together in one place?'"

The Pianos of Petaluma Expo was born. The exhibit highlights 45 unique and vibrantly painted pianos.

"I would call this," Maher says smiling. "A kaleidoscope of artistic color."

The pianos and other artwork are for sale and all proceeds will go towards repairing the trestle. "Frankly, I don't think this is the kind of art exhibit that has been done before and it lights up the faces of visitors," Maher shares.

Maher hopes to make the expo an annual event.

For more information on the Petaluma trestle rehabilitation, visit here.