Monday, November 25, 2013

Detroit's Heidelberg Project

Last Thursday, I took a ride to a place that is located a few miles from the outskirts of Downtown Detroit, a street named Heidelberg. It is on this very impoverished street, that an iconic urban art display known as the "Heidelberg Project" is located. This two block area is an artistic display of old, abandoned homes that have been turned into art through recycled items, many of which were just originally tossed somewhere on the streets of Detroit. This project was started approx. 23 years ago, by an artist named Tyree Guyton, but was soon embraced by the community surrounding this area, with many contributors including children, helping to create this iconic art display. The Heidelberg Project receives almost 300,000 visitors a year, as a tourist place to visit in Detroit.

Each house that is adorned in art, has a name or theme associated with it, such as the "House of Soul", "The Numbers House", and "The Penny House", to name just a few. In May of this year, and again in October, someone burned down what was known as the "OJ" or "House of Justice" that was part of the project. On November 13th, someone then burned down what was formerly known as the "House of Soul", it's exterior decorated with hundreds of real vinyl record albums. On November 21st, the project was again struck by fire when someone burned down what was known as the "Penny House", which was actually slated to be turned into offices for the Heidelberg Project. Hopefully, this arsonist will be caught before anymore damage can be done to this expression of open-air, urban art.

I have lived in the Detroit area my whole life and love so many things about the city, regardless of the negative press that often surrounds Detroit in recent years. After hearing about yet another fire to another structure at the project, I realized that I had never been there, in person, to see the Heidelberg Project. I decided I wanted to see this iconic neighborhood display before anything more unsavory happens to it. Many people would argue that this is not art, but garbage. I think that art is, of course, always in the eye of the beholder. This project has created a close-knit community of people who love, respect and support this project. It also gives them hope for a better future, and someone is trying to take this away from them, and all who appreciate what the community is trying to create in what would otherwise be, just more old abandoned houses.

It was a really cloudy, dreary day when I went to the project. I took all of the following photos from my car, as I had my Mom with me, and she just had knee replacement surgery, so walking was just not something I was able to do at the time. Here are some of the photos I took of the iconic two block landmark. Hope you enjoy this little tour of art that is somewhat different than what we see everyday!

The Dog House

House of Numbers

Circle House

The Teddy Bear House

The Clock House

Taxi House

Cake House

Each adjacent open lawn area is also covered in some type of art, such as this example:
Noah's Ark

Remains of the houses that were burned down:

Photos of what the original burned houses looked like can be found on the internet, by searching for the "Detroit Heidelberg Project."