Public art: A musical machine and a nontraditional nursery rhyme

11:22 a.m. Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 Arts
“Lo Fi Cycle” is a noise-making installation by Steve Parker placed on the lawn of the Long Center. Contributed by Philip Rogers Photography.

The city’s Art in Public Places program is back with another round of temporary installations popping up around town.

Two projects that recently debuted brim with charm.

Intrepid composer Steve Parker has staged a concert using an ensemble of trucks, cars, scooters, bicycles, pedicabs, golf carts and more. Now, on the lawn of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, Parker unveils “Lo Fi Cycle,” a noise-making installation cobbled from bicycle wheels, antique bulb horns and reclaimed brass instruments.

Any passerby can give “Lo Fi” a musical whirl.

Parker says he imagined “Lo Fi” as a mash-up of Marcel Duchamp’s pathbreaking readymade sculpture made from found objects; composer John Cage’s prepared piano with screws, rubber bands and nail attached to the piano hammers; and a wonderfully oddball 1963 performance when a very young and very clean-cut Frank Zappa appeared on “The Steve Allen Show” and played a pair bicycles, using all manner of absurd noise-making techniques.

Parker — the creator of the gallery-roving “Soundspace” musical happenings at the Blanton Museum — characterizes “Lo Fi” as sounding “like a junkyard music box.”

To celebrate it, he’s invited a couple of other genre-busting musicians to perform, with Saturday concerts scheduled Oct. 22 and Nov. 5.


On the grounds of the Elisabet Ney Museum, meanwhile, Yuliya Lanina continues her darkly humorous and quirky artistic takes on traditional fairy tales with her large, interactive sculpture “Humpty Dumpty.”

With fishnet stockings, high heels and bright red lipstick, this a distinctly feminine take on the nursery rhyme character.

“This cute, plump, girl version of Humpty Dumpty is intended to bring joy, amusement, and a sense of wonder — and challenge the way we perceive gender and body image,” Lanina says.

And this Humpty Dumpty also entertains. Lanina enlisted her husband, composer Yevgeniy Sharlat, for some music that plays when you tug on Humpty’s bright red skirt.

Says Lanina: “Press down on the front of her skirt to make her move, then take eight steps back, then come towards her as close as she lets you and see what she can do.”