The Stars Align…Again. The final chapter.
Throughout this Beatles piano adventure, there have been many “Y’all ain’t gonna believe this…” kind of moments. Today, we added more to that list.
The day began with an email from the buyer, who has asked that her name not be disclosed, but approved sharing of this story and the location of the piano’s new home, Indian Harbour Beach, Florida.
“My husband and I are so excited to get this unique piece of artwork to its new home,” she said. “It’s such an honor to be part of this amazing story. Having veterans on both sides of the family, I love that my bid benefits Habitat for Humanity’s veterans program. What a great organization!!”
Then the connections began to become a bit clearer.
“We have a soft spot for New Orleans and the surrounding area,” she continued. “We met at Tulane over 30 years ago and ended up getting married there. I look for opportunities to give back to the New Orleans area, but this opportunity found me. And I’m so glad it did. The auction ended on my birthday. Needless to say, it was an amazing birthday!!”
(Singalong with The Beatles’ Birthday song here.)
Had the email wrapped up with that note, it would have made for a very cool ending to this epic saga. But there was still more to the story.
“I loved reading through the blog,” said the benefactor. “Everyone involved should be proud to be part of a great story. I plan on printing it out (as soon as I get a reliable printer) and making a book to keep near the piano. Feel free to share our history with New Orleans with your local supporters.”
Then came the moment. That “Holy Sh*t!” revelation that would have people doubting the authenticity of this tale.
But it’s all true.
“One other interesting tidbit,” she advised. “Your piano will have a buddy already at our house–a piano that was damaged in the flood waters of Katrina from New Orleans that was auctioned off to support Tipitina’s Foundation.”
She included this link to the auction: Bidding for Good Tipitina’s Piano.
Upon opening the linked page, I was stunned to learn that the other piano was created by Stephan Wanger, with the keys signed by many legendary New Orleans musicians.
And the artwork featured on the piano was stars aligning, exactly as had been the theme of early blog posts for this project. Coincidence? I think not.
In 2013, Stephan had showcased his Bead Town artworks in an exhibit sponsored by the City of Slidell, the same city in which this Habitat affiliate is located. Additionally, I had penned a story about the artist and the event for Slidell Magazine, the same publication in which The Beatles adventures were featured, proclaiming Stephan the Mayor of Bead Town.
“Stephan is a great guy,” she stated. “We have a couple of pieces of his work in our house and we also commissioned him to do the door to our home Mardi Gras theater. Meet Tchoupitoulas.”
And here’s the photo she included.
“Stephan came to Florida after the piano and door were delivered to touch up any misplaced beads and put the piano back together,” she said. “We had a little reception for him with the friends that had accompanied me to New Orleans when I first met him. It was when I was in New Orleans to look at the drawing for this door that I saw the piano in his studio the week before the auction. So I guess you could say that piano found me.”
Now here’s a bit of info about Stephan. He came to New Orleans by way of Chicago, shortly after Hurricane Katrina, with the dreams of making a difference. And indeed, he has.
His breathtaking artwork utilizing recycled Mardi Gras beads has contributed to the reduction of post-parade waste, but has also been celebrated in massive exhibits around the state, including a show in Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. His murals also hold Guinness World Records, with several besting the prior projects.
You’ll see more of his story and his work here: Galeria Alegria.
So when Stephan heard the news, he was quite excited to learn about whom the buyers were, mentioning that he had wondered if it may indeed be the Florida couple. And in his true philanthropic spirit, he eagerly offered to be part of the next fundraiser for East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity, the 2015 Home Is Where the Art Is gala. This annual event will take place just months after the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the very force of nature that brought him to Louisiana. It’s just more dots connected in this big picture that’s so much larger than any of us realize.
And so as this Beatles fairy tale comes to an end, the next chapter, Hope for Habitat, begins, with many details already in the works.
Destiny, how we love thee. Let the next adventure begin.