Every year since 1980, downtown Raleigh has hosted the Artsplosure Festival. Artsplosure, which was May 17 through 19 this year, fills Moore Square, City Plaza and the surrounding streets with food trucks, booths selling paintings, pottery and clothes from regional and local artists and live music.
This year, one display stood out above the rest: The Raleigh Street Piano Project.
The Raleigh Street Piano Project saved six pianos from landfills, decorated them with the help of nonprofits and set them up on street corners around Raleigh. In addition to the revamped, full-sized pianos, two smaller, child-sized pianos were located at the Marbles courtyard. The public was invited to play the pianos, spreading live music through the streets.
The pianos were not the only attraction. Two stages were set up in Moore Square, hosting a variety of bands during the weekend, including Bob Marley’s former band, The Wailers, Sunday night. Artists worked on a massive sand sculpture feet away from a chalkboard, asking passerbys to finish the sentence, “Before I die, I want to,” many writing things like “travel the world” or “live,” but some were less cliched like “watch Netflix and eat Nutella.”
Nicola McIrvine, a junior at Leesville, thought the art itself was interesting because of how unique it was.
“A lot of the art that was there, I’d never seen art forms like that, like the sand sculptures and a lot of the metalwork was really interesting,” said McIrvine.
The bands, pottery and pianos were fantastic, but beneath the main attractions was a hidden treasure: Play Doh ice cream.
The ice cream, a brilliant yellow with multi-colored sugar cookie bits throughout, looked foreboding from afar. The vanilla and cookie ice cream, from a booth owned by The Ice Cream Shop (based in Apex), was actually sublime.
With Artsplosure over once more, all anyone can do is wait for next year. As always, it will be worth it.