I recently made my way out for Sing for Hope in Joyce Kilmer Park on 161st and the Grand Concourse, where I had the pleasure of chatting it up with Trevon Blondet, who grew up in this very neighborhood and is now taking the opportunity to tell the story of the neighborhood that he holds so dear to his heart through photography, along with members of The Bronx Photo League.
When you see the finished product, you may never know all the work that went into creating the final masterpiece that currently resides in the park. 40 portraits started it all, which then grew to 80 portraits, which were put into a book. These were the images used for the Sing for Hope piano. From there, Blondet went on to strategize how to place the portraits in the most advantageous ways. He explained, “I didn’t want to highlight a specific photo.” Starting from the back of the piano, the safest place because it’s the least exposed, he began to lay the groundwork for
the tiling of the portraits. He measured everything out and came up with a plan of 3.5, 4.5, & 8.5 prints to cover the piano canvas over the different spaces. Laser jet prints were printed then applied with Mod Podge and finally glossed to bring back the vitality of the photos.
Aside from the very obvious technical focus to create a successful piece, Blondet clearly put as much of his heart into it as he did his mind. “I grew up here, Concourse Village…The Bronx is a great place to live and so I want to show other people, the products from all those people that grew up here,” Blondet shared.
During my visit, I also had the pleasure of speaking to Canaan Parker who sat down at the piano to play his interpretation of the images conveyed. Parker’s father was a resident
of the neighborhood and he shared some of his very personal memories of taking his father, who was wheelchair bound to various places in the area. Parker, who now resides on the lower west side of Manhattan, lit up talking about his cherished memories of his father who lived right on the Grand Concourse directly across from the piano. He was equally joyous as he shared his experience at the piano. He was so moved by the energy that the images portrayed and his playing reflected that.
The Bronx Photo League‘s piano will be in the park until June 26th. Trevon has invited everyone to come take a photo or video of you at the piano and tag him in the photo/video. His Instagram is @blackblondimages and you can find him as Trevon Blondet on Facebook.
“If it’s not here, it’s not hot. This is what’s hot in hip hop.”