Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Heidelberg Project

I've been meaning to pay a visit here for a while but things got in the way and I ended up putting it off.  I was actually planning on going yesterday but it was raining pretty hard most of the day but I looked at the weather for today and saw that it was going to be nice.  Since I already had today off, it was pretty easy decision.
 I am not normally a fan of what I would call ruin porn but I don't really consider this as ruins.  Yes, it is making something out of the ruins but I think it now transcends ruins.  While it has transformed this neighborhood, I don't think it is a solution to urban decay.  Unless the plan is to turn an entire city into what amount to a museum.
 This house was bought and is now used for the Detroit Industrial Gallery.  I think this is an artist that takes metal things and turns them into art.  It's possible I've seen his work around town to.
 The Heidelberg Project is on Heidelberg Street.  It is actually pretty easy to get to.  You can get on Gratiot Ave if you are heading north from I-75.  Continue North (or east, my directions in Detroit are kind of messed up) on Gratiot and then turn right on Heidelberg.  From there it is about three blocks or so.  You'll know once you've reached it.
 The Project was started in 1986 by Tyree Guyton and his grandfather Sam Mackey.  Tyree saw the desolation in his childhood neighborhood after returning from the Army and he wanted to make a statement.  He had studied art at Marygrove College and Wayne State (both in Detroit).
 The above car is called the Penny Car and this is why.  Most of the objects in the project are from discarded items.  While I think the primary statement is about the destruction of the neighborhood, there are other messages strewn around.
 I don't know what the different structures are called but each has a different theme.
 This one was called the Obstruction of Justice house but it caught fire in March.  Interestingly enough even that has been turned into art.
 Your opinions on this may vary but I think this is pretty neat.
 On two occasions, the City of Detroit has tried to demolish the Project.  In November of 1991, Coleman Young's Detroit destroyed three of the houses.  Later in 1999, Mayor Archer ordered the destruction of other houses and three other houses were destroyed in the process.  I can appreciate what they were trying to do but with all the other abandoned and destroyed neighborhoods, why pick this one?  If they don't like its message, perhaps they should do something about what led to its message.
 Many of the objects used in the creation of the art have been discarded.  I guess one message is that much like the objects we regularly throw away, we've also thrown away our neighborhoods.
 Again, I'm not sure of the message here.
 One thing, there is alot of religious symbolism.  Here you have Noah's Ark.
 For the most part, the area is pretty well maintained.  I think I saw the artist sweeping the sidewalks.  I should have looked up his picture before going, not that I would have remembered.
 A sign announcing the project.
 Another one of the houses.
 A house with stuffed animals all over it.  The animals could represent the people that used to live here.
 Another house.
 A closeup of some of the stuffed animals.
 Mickey hanging from a window.
 Some of the animals looking out.
 A house covered in records.
 Another house.
 The gutted insides of the Obstruction of Justice house.
 A lawn jockey with a football helmet.
 Another angle of the Obstruction of Justice house.
 Looking down the street, even the street is painted.
 The information booth.
 This sign appears to be a statement on the state of healthcare these days.
 Another house.
 Looking down the street.  This is probably the picture I should have started with.  For the most part, it looks like it could have been a pleasant neighborhood in the day.
 This looks like a buried Hummer.
 The house that serves as the information house.
There are many hoods with paintings on them.

The opinions on this place are varied.  Like I said, i think it is pretty neat.  It is definately a statement on what has happened to the city of Detroit.  Sadly, this probably wont last either but hopefully enough people have taken pictures of it to sort of preserve it.  Pictures don't do it justice though, you really need to see it.

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