Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's Not Just Polka Dots and Stuffed Animals - The War Against The Heidelberg Project & The Pursuit to Protect It

Photo Borrowed from The Heidelberg Project's Facebook Page

Throughout the last several months The Heidelberg Project has fallen victim to fires that have destroyed 4 of the 8 houses that were part of the art installation. It is unclear who is responsible for the arson, but what is clear is that something needs to be done to prevent further damage.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with The Heidelberg Project, it is a slightly bizarre yet whimsical art display that is set amongst abandoned homes and vacant lots on Detroit's East Side. Created by Tyree Guyton 27 years ago, the art on the houses and throughout the area were meant to call attention to the blight that had taken over the neighborhood he grew up in, while intriguing people and brightening up the area. In turn, once the project was started, there was no reported crime in the area for 26 years and it has brought in over $3 Million to the City of Detroit. Tyree continues to update and create new art throughout the area today. On any given day you can see him outside with paintbrushes in hand.

If you have never been to Heidelberg, it's something you need to experience. From homes covered in stuffed animals to legs sticking up out of the ground there are so many amazing displays throughout the couple of blocks, featuring discarded and found items amongst an array of brightly colored polka dots. The Heidelberg Project is at the top of my list of places to take out of towners. It is unlike anything I've ever seen before. In fact, one of my friends described it best by saying, "It's so Detroit."

Only in Detroit can someone take abandoned property and goods and turn it into something interesting and amazing. Likewise, only in Detroit would people be upset about vacant homes being destroyed, but it's so much more than that. It's art. It's a statement about society. It's a statement about where Detroit has been and where it could be headed. Sadly, although The Heidelberg Project has many fans, there are also some that are not as fond of the art.

With half of the houses now burnt to the ground, the face of Heidelberg has definitely changed. However Tyree and the group involved with the project are trying to preserve what is left. They are attempting to raise $50,000 to up the security at the site. If you would like to help the cause, you can donate through their indiegogo site here. Donations can be made through December 20th.

Whether you have never been to the site before or if it's one of your favorite spots in Detroit, do yourself a favor and take a trip there soon. Next Saturday is actually the perfect chance to do it too! On December 21st they will be celebrating the Winter Solstice at The Heidelberg Project with food, drinks, bonfires, and art classes for making holiday cards and ornaments. Attendees of the event are being asked to bring coats (for adults AND children), winter hats, gloves, or socks to help those in need. The fun will happen from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and is family friendly. For further details and directions to The Heidelberg Project visit the Facebook event page here


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