Tuesday, June 09, 2009
field trippin': the heidelberg project
This past Saturday Nate and I caught the Art Spiegelman exhibit over at Detroit's Museum of Contemporary Art, and since we were only a stone's throw away from The Heidelberg Project we decided to finally go and see it in person. For those who don't know what this is, allow me to quickly summarize the backstory:

When Tyree Guyton returned to his home on Heidelberg Street after a brief stint in the Army in the 1980s, he was shocked at the rapid deterioration of his neighborhood, remarking that its looked as if "a bomb went off." Unfortunately, there's no shortage of neighborhoods like this in Detroit; however, rather than pull up and abandon his street to the rats and the weeds, Guyton felt compelled to do something. In 1986 he covered his own house in polka-dots, and from that grew The Heidelberg Project: an outdoor community art project that's part political protest, part museum, and part love song to a fallen neighborhood. (Source)

Although I've known about the Heidelberg Project for years, this was my first time seeing it, and ....wow. Approaching Heidelberg Street is like entering a total fantasyland - an entire street's worth of mostly abandoned houses covered in paint and garbage. One house is completely covered in trashed stuffed animals. Brightly painted discarded doors form sculptures that sit on now-empty lots. Shopping carts and old shoes hang from the trees, old tires are now sculptures, and a row of broken vacuum cleaners topped with gloves form a waving line. It looks every bit as crazy as it sounds, but it's also totally MAGICAL. These artists have taken a street that would otherwise have been a dangerous eyesore and turned it into this amazing, warm, welcoming place that's become a must-see tourist spot.

I fear that my pictures don't even come close to doing it justice. You really need to see this thing for yourself, but here's the best of what I could capture on "film" just the same:

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