The sound of piano music in the 100 block of State Street may become a common occurrence after the recent addition of several colorful upright pianos to the area this past July.
Adam Braus, co-founder of 100State, came up with the idea for Artup Weekend, a project which involves gathering different teams to create works of art within a weekend. One of the teams decided to collect free pianos from Craigslist and leave them out as places for the public to gather and be creative, he said.
In the past, the 100 block of State Street was known to be an area where many homeless people stay, and drug issues have also been known to be present in the area, 100State Co-founder Niko Skievaski said. The Pianos on State project has unintentionally brought a creative outlet to many people as an innovative way of improving the area, Skievaski said.
“It’s a way of lowering barriers, it builds that community just like the Free Little Libraries,” Skievaski said. “We’re actually working on getting a Free Little Library out there as well.”
Braus said some of the other art projects include a mural, an artistic bike rack and a sculpting class for blind people. He said the pianos will stay out on State Street until mid-October.
The idea behind Artup Weekend captured the attention of a group in Washington, D.C. that is starting the same kind of team art projects, Braus said. Artup Weekend started as a way for artists to monetize their art, Braus said.
The Pianos on State project is just one outcome of the 100State organization co-founded by Braus, Skievaski and Michael Fenchel.
The organization, located on the fourth floor above Ian’s Pizza on State, has seen enormous growth in the past few months in its efforts to bring together the intelligent, creative and professional community abundant in Madison, Braus said.
“I like to think of it as a gym membership for your career,” Braus said. “What’s important about it is the community of peers and mentors where there are opportunities to crate businesses, do consulting projects and have fun social events too.”
100State welcomes anyone with an idea, Braus said, adding they currently have people working on projects in fields from business and marketing to art, food and music. The organization is already producing some businesses and hopes to see great things come about as more people connect and share ideas, Braus said.
Braus said anybody is welcome to walk into 100State and check out the office. A membership fee is required for the opportunity to build relationships and create projects with young professionals in Madison, he added.
“You have the opportunity to make the money, the skills and the connections,” Braus said. “Your whole career kind of kicks off when you walk through the doors.”
Skievaski said 100State is a new company. He said prior to its opening in June, it operated out of a train caboose on East Washington Avenue. Since then, they have grown from 11 people to about 60 in the course of two months, he said, with an even larger mailing list of 700.