Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Street's the Canvas

It's my way of educating my neighborhood. . . 
It's a medicine. It's my way of connecting the world.
~ Tyree Guyton, Detroit Artist*

Recently the On Being blog featured "The Heidelberg Project", a two-city-block "art installation" in a still-decaying Detroit neighborhood of mostly vacant lots that serve as a "canvas" on which to paint back (in the broadest sense of those words) what's been lost to 1960s-era riots, drug dealing and other crime, and the demise of industry. Conceived and directed by Tyree Guyton, born the same year (1955) that Rosa Parks made history in Alabama and who himself is making a remarkable difference to his community, the project is an especially noteworthy urban-revitalization initiative, for it speaks to the enormous potential that art has to effect and sustain transformative change.

As this video shows, this now 25-year-old project, described as an "art museum, the only one you're probably going to see that's big enough to be open 24 hours, seven days a week", is not only a serious approach to make something from nothing; it's a clever recycling and re-use effort, and it's fun (take special note of the meanings behind the "Animal House", the "Dotty Wotty House", the "Motor City", and the "OJ House"). It's also a tourist destination, visited by more than 275,000 people each year; an arts education program; a nonprofit, community development organization; and, perhaps most important, a symbol of what can happen when one person with a vision inspires an entire neighborhood to use art to recover hope and to heal.

HDNet - "Art From The Ashes: Detroit's Heidelberg Project" from Tilapia Film on Vimeo.

Also Of Interest

* Tyree Guyton Quote from "The Heidelberg Project" Video on YouTube

Archival Photos

Article Collection (Included here is this Lisa Chiu article: "A Detroit Artist's Whimsical Beautification Project Spurs Urban Renewal", The Chronicle of Philanthropy, December 4, 2011.)

General Information Brochure (pdf) and FAQs for The Heidelberg Project

The Heidelberg Project on FaceBookTwitterFlickrYouTube, and Vimeo

The Heidelberg Project on Great Nonprofits

The Heidelberg Project Shop


Cindy Brown said...

That video is amazing. One person CAN make a difference and lead a community to action. We need more people like this in America. Love it!

S. Etole said...

I like those colorful doors.

Louise Gallagher said...

You posted on my blog as I was posting on yours.

And yes -- vibrant colours! vivid project -- absolutely awesome! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

this sounds really good, mo. i plan to give it a look-see.

Anonymous said...

lots of room
for creativity