Nota Blu

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Nota Blu or the Blue Note is the title of a piano painted in Park City, Utah, US. It was painted by commissioned artist, philanthropist, and founder of Art For Life, Sonny Luca.

Art Pianos For All[edit]

Art Pianos For All is a project that was founded by members of the Summit County Council for the Arts and Historical Preservation Society for Summit County in Park City, Utah, through the efforts of Alison Butz and Mark Maziarz.

Vintage pianos are generously donated from members of the community and are gifted to be selected for this project. If found to be in good condition, they are restored and placed in a location selected by the Summit County Council for the Arts.

Local to Park City (Summit County), Utah, home to world-famous ski resorts, and host of the Sundance Film Festival, this non-profit group (Art Pianos For All) is seeking to rejuvenate the piano as a centerpiece of music, community, art and fun for everyone.

Artists are hand-selected from thousands of submissions based on the quality and originality of their conceptual design for each piano. Once chosen, the artist is then commissioned to decorate the piano on the site selected by Council members. When the pianos have arrived to the site, the newly commissioned artist has the rare opportunity to condition and prepare the piano to become a canvas for their conceptual design.

The community at large is encouraged to interact with the piano and with the artist, while the artist paints. After the final brush stroke, the pianos are placed in public areas for every man, woman and child to enjoy, to rediscover the creation and inspiration of art and music.

Art Pianos For All is the first group to bring this project to Utah. Since the project began, several cities, such as Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah have followed suit and begun their own endeavors to recreate the same success founded by Alison Butz and Mark Maziarz of Park City.

Sonny Luca was the first artist commissioned in the state of Utah to paint a mural on Utah's first "Art Piano".

The Piano[edit]

  • Manufacturer: The Straube Piano Company
  • Serial number: #55688
  • Style: Vertical grand piano with patented French repeating action
  • Year manufactured: Date unknown
  • Original owner: Only known by "Vince" who generously donated this Piano to the Art Pianos For All project in Park City, Utah; has remained mostly anonymous.

Founded in 1904 at 252 Wildwood Road, this historic factory building—still exists today, however it is silent in the manufacturing of pianos. The structure is one of two loft-style industrial buildings constructed of heavy masonry walls and wood floors remaining in the city. It was designed by architect Joseph T. Hutton. The company remained in business for some 20 to 25 years, while it did a brisk business during the roaring 1920's, selling it's trademark player pianos.

During the firm's heyday, the plant expanded several times in order to keep up with the demand. In 1919, the company stated that it had a daily output of 15 pianos a day and in 1920, with its expanded capacity it would have a production of 20 pianos daily. Its total annual production then was pegged at some 6,000 units. More than 130 skilled craftsman and mechanics were employed in the manufacturing process there at that time.

During that era, player pianos were in vogue, and they were becoming even more popular as time went on. Piano industry experts stated, because of its ease of use, the player piano was expected to eventually replace the "old" manually operated pianos. All of this came to a grinding halt with the stock market crash and the Great Depression of the 1929.

The company's retail store and showroom was located on Hohman Avenue in Downtown Hammond. This building also still stands today, it is located on the east side of the street, just past where Rimbach Street joins Hohman Avenue.


When artist Sonny Luca began this work, he discovered there were two coats of stain buried under one coat of varnish and one coat of lacquer, which had sat under approximately 60 plus years of time.

Sonny Luca decided to sand the piano down to the bare wood. After the bare wood was exposed for the first time is sixty years, the artist then cleaned and prepped the piano. Pure water and Gentle soaps were used to clean and recondition the chestnut grained wood prior to the next stage prep-work.

The Art Pianos For All group wisely suggested to Luca that he switch from the idea of using heavy oils for the painting to acrylic, which uses gentler pigments.

Once the wood was dried, Sonny placed three coats of base prime paint on the piano in order to allow it to accept his mural. At this point he began to paint.

Acrylic paints have always been challenging for the young artist. Posed with the first challenge, Sonny Luca decided to creatively push himself in other directions as well.

Each of the pigments Sonny used on the piano contains a shade of blue or purple. When he couldn't make or get the colors he desired from the a basic root mixture, he chose not to use that color. When he found it necessary, Luca intentionally add the blue to the color or pigment used in the mural.

Portions of the original black and midnight blue stain were left untouched in certain areas of the piano. Luca made this decision in order to pay homage to the piano's creators, and to honor the essence of the spirit of the piano.

Upon researching the history of this instrument, Sonny gained a deep reverence and respect for the piano. Having survived some sixty years, this piece of Americana built by the Straube Piano Company that went out of business in the late 1940s, early 1950s. By the time Sonny lifted his first brush stroke, he discovered that everything; all the internal parts from the strings to the individual cotton-fibered hammers were intact and from the time that the piano came off the line.

Deciding to offer himself an adventurous, artistic experience, Sonny literally lived with his mural painting throughout the duration of its genesis. For nearly 22 days and nights Sonny lived with Nota Blu in the Park City Old Town Transit Center.

Hyper-focused, the absent-mined and somewhat eccentric artist would work endlessly throughout the day and night, only travelling back to Ogden, Utah to sleep. Sonny ate from local Summit County restaurants within walking distance of his beloved project when patrons and benefactors would remind him to eat. Constantly creating new pigments and altering original designs Sonny seemed eager to work. He attributed the changes to the public, stating that the amazing people he met in Summit County directly influenced his work.

The mural painted on the Nota Blu Piano was inspired by a dream that artist Sonny Luca had.

After the piano's first and second installment, the piano and the dream that inspired the mural on the piano have since then, been engulfed in an urban legend.

Discussions have been made to approach Sonny Luca for a script and movie rights to retell the story revolving Nota Blu and its creations.

Inside the mural: Jazz musicians[edit]

The musicians in the mural are representations of some of the greatest Jazz musicians from the 1920s through to the 1970s.

In the front on the sound board starting from the left, we see:

  • Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), better known by her stage name Nina Simone
  • playing the piano there is Thelonious Sphere Monk(October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982),
  • on the right is Etta James(born Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012).

On the right side panel from the top there is:

  • Dinah Washington, born Ruth Lee Jones (August 29, 1924 – December 14, 1963),
  • to her right is Mary Lou Williams (May 8, 1910 – May 28, 1981),
  • on the left of Mary Lou is Sarah Lois Vaughan(March 27, 1924 – April 3, 1990)(nicknamed "Sailor" (for her salty speech), "Sassy" and "The Divine One"),
  • to Sarah's Left is Ella Jane Fitzgerald(April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996),( also known as the "First Lady of Song", "Queen of Jazz", "The Duchess", and "Lady Ella,").

On the backboard of the piano:

On the right side panel is:

  • Billie Holiday(born Eleanora Harris April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959)(nicknamed "Lady Day"),
  • to her right is Lena Mary Calhoun Horne(June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010),
  • and to Lena's left is Anna Marie Wooldridge(August 6, 1930 – August 14, 2010),(better known by her stage name Abbey Lincoln).

Each of the representations of the great jazz musicians and serves remind the music or art patron that these artists were true artists and innovators inspired and provoked emotions through their art.

Inside the mural: music[edit]

Throughout the piano painting are notes from the song “At Last". This song was originally written for the movie Orchestra Wives and is best known as recorded and made famous by recently departed Etta James.

The song was an integral part of the climatic point in the dream that inspired the painting.

The Dream[edit]

In the Words of Sonny Luca:

In my dream we open on tragic events that separate lovers that are destined for each other. This couple was truly meant for each other. The circumstances behind their separation were beyond their control.

Separately they walk into a place with a familiar sound, not knowing what they are searching for; yet feeling an urgency to find what seems like they are missing. Hoping to find the cause of that feeling and settle the storm brewing inside them, they follow the sounds that seems to tug and pull at them impatiently.

She wanders in skimming through the crowd as that feeling stirs more intently. Soon he walks through the door sensing that where he needs to be at this second is right here and right now. He begins to almost be pushed towards the stage.

They brush against each other time after time. Each near miss is preceded by a temptation and several conversations that add to their distractions. Inevitably they break free from the distractions and continue with their search.

The band sees them… they heat up the scene with a hot number. The crowd is up on their feet. You can see the excitement in their eyes and the enthusiasm in their feet. The crowd dances as though they had been waiting for this song. From opposite ends of the room both he and she get pulled into the crowd like a strong undertow.

In the chaos and confusion they are bumped and prodded by dancing couples who seem to be oblivious to his or her existence separately and respectively.

Finally as the number comes to a close they (our lost Couple) are spun into each other, and as their backs collide they sense something different. They turn to apologize to their victim; as they turn their eyes meet and the music changes. “At Last” plays against the soft warm breeze and seems to almost fill the air as our couple begins to feel lighter than a feather. They see it. They know it. They feel it. They are home. They found what was missing.

He: “Are you real?”

She: “Yes. Am I dreaming?”

He: “if we are… don’t wake me.”

She: “I’ve been looking for you.”

He: “I’ve been Loving you… Every day.”

They kiss and begin to dance to the song that brought them together. …

On stage are the greatest jazz musicians … each appear overly confident about this couple and their reunion.

As the dream fades we notice these Jazz artists with their facial expressions that I have tried to capture in my painting. As the song ends the notes they played change into ribbon-ed sheet music that begins to wrap around them to reveal the suggestions of wings and halos….

_Fade out. The dream ends… or does it?

As you walk around “Blue Note” remember that one… The one you still hold a flame for… As you stare at these musicians You are that couple….These musicians are playing your song; that song that seemed to take flight against the air during that first kiss when your soul recognized theirs and you felt that sense of belonging; that feeling of “Home”.

The questions to ask yourself as you look upon “Nota Blu: Blue Note” are:

  1. Am I the dream, or am I the dreamer?
  2. In that moment of realization when you discover the one; the one you are meant to experience life’s journey with; is this Love a dream? If so, would you want to wake from the dream?
  3. Are you staring at these musicians or are they admiring you?
  • the above statement was originally written by Sonny Luca in his Artist's Statement for Nota Blu.

Press coverage[edit]

Anchor and Reporter and Nineveh Dinha Anchor and Reporter for Fox 13 News Weekend Edition: News At Nine.- Restored pianos become artwork in Park City. .

Urban legend[edit]

The following describes an urban legend that has grown up around Nota Blu.

True Love's First Kiss.

Patrons of the Arts and Visitors of Summit County From February through May of the year 2012; came to know and fall in love with Sonny Luca. To ask Sonny how he felt about the people he met; the conversions he had; the food he ate; and the county he lived in; he would eagerly tell you that the feeling was mutually love and respect.

During the creation of Nota Blu, Summit County and Sonny Luca became very familiar with each other. Whether it was fellow dreamers, artists, or patrons, he fell in love with them all. He got to meet child prodigies, musicians, and hard working citizens from all over the world. Even the local Police would come in, relax, and play the piano while Sonny painted; and yes, even the local Police department warmed up to Sonny Luca and his eccentric charms.

As the world in Summit County grew close to the Artist; they got the chance to read the Artist's Statement as well as the article written in The Park Record by Scott Iwasaki.

After the first installment of Nota Blu an Urban legend began to arise surrounding Nota Blu. Nota Blu became covered in kisses. It was called the SWAK ATTACK by locals: (SWAK) Sealed With A Kiss. Ladies who read the dream began saying that they would approach Nota Blu; then close their eyes drawing a breath in slowly. They would then say a silent prayer to open their heart to true love. Afterwards they would lean in and seal [their prayer] with a kiss.

Those who have kissed Nota Blu swear by it. After their kiss, seven days and seven nights come to pass. During which time, their life begins to change.

They claim that they:

  • live a little better,
  • act with more clarity,
  • feel more confident,
  • begin to feel their adventurous spirit,
  • Smile More,
  • Laugh more,
  • Dance more,
  • Start treating the world how they want to be treated,
  • and start treating themselves better.

By the seventh day, they swear that those who have had their hearts opened by the experience; receive True Love's first kiss.

Some attribute the renewal of passion in their life to this experience they've shared with Nota Blu; while other's say that they received their true loves marriage proposal because of it.

Whether or not you believe the legend is not important. The results of how others have experienced Nota Blu and the joy it brings everyone is in itself a phenomenon.


Several prominent members of the Utah cinema and film community have entered into serious discussions with artist Sonny Luca to option the rights to the movie involving the story of Nota Blu, its artist and the urban legend of Nota Blu.

Sonny Luca, who retains the rights to the above aforementioned intellectual properties – the story and its images – has stated he remains open to the idea; but presently, no serious offers have come his way.


Nota Blu, after its completion has called two locations home:

  • Old Town Transit Center – Near Main Street and Swede Alley in Prospector's Square.- Park City, (Summit County) Utah 84060
  • South Summit Aquatic & Fitness Center – 350 East 200 South. Kamas, (Summit County)Utah 84036

Nota Blu has called the South Summit Aquatic & Fitness Center, home, since January 2013, where it remains to this day.


External links[edit]

  • [1] – Art For Life
  • [2] – Art Pianos For All
  • [3]- South Summit Aquatic Center
  • [4]- The Park Record; Scott Iwasaki Reporter and Editor of the Scene the Arts and Entertainment News Section.
  • [5]- Scott Iwasaki, The Park Record: Painting public art pianos.
  • [6] – KPCW: Park City, Utah Community Radio PSA: Art Pianos For All
  • [7]- Mark Maziarz -Professional Photographer, Co-founder of Art Pianos for All, Summit County Arts Council Member, and Historical Preservation Society Member.
  • [8] Fox 13 Utah: Restored pianos become artwork in Park City.
  • [9]-KPCW: Park City, Utah Community Radio