On a recent snowy weekday, I had the good fortune to be in Detroit with time to explore two of the city’s best-loved art spots. Find some information about the artists and the ideas, materials and environment with which they work in the slideshow below. Also, be sure to check out all the good work by The Imagination Station and The Heidelberg Project.
Gallery: A Snow Day in Detroit
This is an abandoned one-time mansion across the street from ruin-porn icon Michigan Central Station in Corktown. The non-profit that controls the space, The Imagination Station, hopes to redevelop the site into a campus where artists could live and create wacky public projects, like the mini-golf course made of found materials that was hiding under a thin layer of snow during my visit this week.
Barrels like those homeless people use for warming fires have been painted gold. A metaphor for class warfare in the age of obscene oil greed? I think so. This was part of The Imagination Station art lot on 14th Street.
Tyree Guyton started adorning the abandoned homes and lots on his block of Heidelberg Street in Detroit 26 years ago. The sculpture project began as one man’s reclaimation of the forgotten space around him and has grown into an attraction drawing more than 200,000 people a year. Known as the Heidelberg Project, Guyton’s work is a testimony of the power of art to bring people to a place and at the same time, evidence that bringing people does not necessarily translate into economic activity or transformation. Tourists who visit The Heidelberg Project still travel there on empty, rutted streets lined with abandoned houses. During my visit this week, the only people I saw in the neighborhood, other than the tourists, were homeless men drinking in the snow during the day.
I couldn’t help but eavesdrop as I walked around the project’s colorful sculptures. The fleece-wearing, SUV-driving folks gawking closest to me had a long, Michigan-accented conversation about whether or not artist Tyree Guyton’s block-long installation was, in fact, art. Their conclusion was yes, and we hope the neighbors like it. I concur.
Photos by Ariella Cohen
Ariella Cohen is Next City’s editor-in-chief.