Photo credits to Paula Soler-Moya, Patricia Drury, Randy Wade, Jessica Reeder, Wigwam Jones and Tocqueville 2012.
“Watching the deterioration of his impoverished, crime-ridden neighborhood of McDougall-Hall two decades after Detroit’s 1967 race riots, artist Tyree Guyton felt the need to do something. So he picked up a paintbrush and painted pastel polka dots all over his grandfather’s Heidelberg Street house.
Guyton’s paint job was the first act toward what became the Heidelberg Project, an outdoor community art project aimed at breathing life back into his decaying district. Encouraged by his grandfather, and with the help of local kids, Guyton began decorating the abandoned homes beside the polka-dot house and installing art made from salvaged materials.
The project now spans two blocks and is constantly evolving, anchored by the altered houses. One ramshackle two-story home is covered in stuffed animals. Another is painted with numbers of wildly varying sizes and colors. Strewn across the yards are sculptures incorporating decorated cars, shopping carts, doors, shoes, and household appliances.
Though the infusion of color and creativity has attracted a stream of appreciative visitors to McDougall-Hall, the Heidelberg Project has some vocal critics. Chief among them is the city of Detroit, which demolished parts of the community in 1991 and 1999.
Local detractors view the Heidelberg Project as an eyesore and health hazard, and resent the fact that it draws further attention to Detroit’s urban blight. On November 12 of this year, the project’s "House of Soul,” an abandoned house decorated with hundreds of records, burned to the ground in a suspected arson attack. This followed a suspicious fire in May, in which an art-enhanced building called the “Obstruction of Justice House” was destroyed.
Undeterred, Guyton has responded to the destruction with relentless optimism and vowed to continue expanding his vibrant art community.“
This is one of the reasons I love Tumblr so much. Places like this suddenly appear on my dashboard, and I fall in love. I’ve never heard of this project before - but upon reading more about it, I think it’s incredible.
A residential block of homes that have been appropriated by the artist as a protest against their deterioration, caused by the failings of the local government. As the Wiki page reads, the artist, Tyree Guyton and his grandfather, decided to reclaim their neighbourhood and make it enjoyable, fun and focused on the spirit of the people who live(d) there.
The concept itself is beautiful, but I also love the visual appeal of the ‘finished’ pieces. They are haphazard, handmade and precarious. It seems as though a storm has come along and dumped these signs and advertisements over the street - but in a considered way.
What I love most about this work is the clear intention to make the area live. To give the people of the area something to be proud of and something joyful - but that also acts as a protest against the decay they are facing. They refuse to 'grow old gracefully’ and instead begin to take control of their geographies. Being born in one of these 'decaying’ areas of the world, I have huge admiration for this.