Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Heidelberg Project

The Detroit Institute of Arts certainly has many expensive prestigious works of art on display, which we should have stopped to see while in Detroit.  We have become well aware of that fact as the institute has been in the news while the bankrupt city has been reviewing its' assets.  We also had learned about another display of art in The Saginaw News travel section a couple of weeks ago, which is the Heidelberg Project.
In 1967 many parts of Detroit burned because of race riots.  Communities became segregated and what with poverty and despair also taking over, urban ghettos sprang up.  In 1986 Tyree Guyton took a stand against what was happening to his city.  Using vacant lots and abandoned houses as his canvas, he transformed an entire city block into an outdoor art environment.  As time has passed, the residents on Heidelberg street also became involved and helped to protect the art work.  Twice the city has tried to destroy the art community but the project has continued to grow, gaining supporters from around the city as well as the nation and the world. 
This was our last stop of the day in Detroit, and, because of the heat of the day, John chose to sit in the car while I wandered down Heidelberg street.  An artist standing near the sculpture pictured above was explaining to several people how he created it from artifacts of historic buildings downtown.  I stopped to listen for awhile.  Amazing that he saved the decorative artwork just before the wrecking ball hit the building!  I also entered one of the homes on the block that had an open door.  Inside the house the walls were covered with decorative contemporary art similar to what I had seen outside.  A lady I met there explained the Heidelberg Project to me and encouraged me to check out the polka dotted house next door. 
Tyree Guyton's Grandpa Sam liked jellybeans and, gazing a them one day, Tyree got the idea that people were jellybeans- all similar and yet different.  The candy inspired him to start painting dots everywhere until the Dotty Wotty House was created.  The street  also became polka dotted- a veritable "celebration of color, diversity and harmony" (as explained by the Project's brochure).
 A lot of the art work features shoes, clocks, vinyl records, and stuffed animals.  As a sign along the street explains: "it symbolizes what can happen when people color a bleak urban landscape with their own history and personalities".  I liked the whole aura of joy and hope which HP speaks to, and it was a perfect ending to our day in Detroit.

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