Code violation or art? Fort Worth man's porch piano must find new home

Blake Hestir says he's had the piano, which he considers an art piece, on his front porch for years.

There is a reason they call Fort Worth "Funkytown."

And Blake Hestir says you need look no further than his front porch to see why.

For the past three years, an upright, bright yellow piano has been parked on his porch.

"I love the chipped paint, it just adds character to the piece," Hestir said. "I think it's part of what keeps neighborhood communities unique."

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He never plays the piano; the keys don't really work. But what does work, he says, is the piano's ability to start a conversation among neighbors.

"I think that it's art," he said. "That's right. I think it's craft art."

The piano's been used in photo shoots and documentaries, and he says he's never had a complaint. But his porch piano may soon now be a thing of the past. Hestir recently received a code compliance violation from the city.

"Please place all discarded, used or broken items inside or remove them from the property," the letter said. "Also remove all materials which tend to decay, to become putrid or to provide harborage for rodents and other vectors from the property. Items stored on the rooftop or porch should be placed inside or removed from the property."

"I do think I can defend this is not a discarded, broken-down item," Hestir said of his porch piano. "It actually has much life to it."

Code Compliance wasn't available for an interview Tuesday. Instead, they pointed us back to the ordinance which prohibits home furnishings from being stored outside the home.

Breinn Richter, a member of the Fairmount Neighborhood Association, says the organization has been working recently with Code Compliance on a number of issues, including issues like this one. She says the question here is where would things stop, pointing out that if a piano is okay, is a couch?

"I understand all that, but there are certain things people have on their front porch that appear to be broken and may appear to have no use, but in actuality, do," Hestir said.

What the city's ordinance doesn't address is what may be considered porch art.

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The citation says failure to comply with the city's orders could result in a fine of up to $2,000 for each day the property remains in violation.

So now Hestir is looking for a new home for his yellow piano and hoping the city, one day, changes its tune.