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HEIDELBERG PROJECT - SIGN The Heidelberg Project

Urban75 discovers a street that's as good as acid!

Imagine this. You're walking down a poor inner city street in downtown Detroit minding your own business, whistling a cheery techno tune to yourself in the cool winter sunshine.

You turn a corner into another city street and then stop dead in your tracks. Something very odd is going on. Your eyes are suddenly assaulted by a mass of bright colours as you find yourself in a mad street full of houses covered in numbers, with thousands of toys hanging off trees, weird painted faces beaming out from brightly coloured houses, and discarded TV's sprouting mechanical arms.

You nearly stumble into one of the hundreds of abandoned hoovers with gloves scattered around as you struggle to keep your footing, slipping on the hundreds of discarded shoes scattered underfoot.

Above your head there's a row of red trousers suspended off a tree casting shadows over a huge pile of bicycles piled up over an old wooden house.

Further down the street there's a Square with a bus frozen at its bus stop, completely covered in blobs of paint and full of strange sculptures. Above you the trees have children's toy cars nailed up on high and all around are huge smiling faces painted on billboards and roadsigns.

But this street isn't compeletly deserted - from some of the houses you can hear people stirring inside.....

Whoooa! Heavy shit, maaaan! You must have been overdosing on the extra-strong acid or brewing up a few cups too many of those fabulous Magic Mushrooms, right?

Wrong. This street exists. It's called the Heidelburg Project and livens up a run down area of Detroit transforming inner city drab into a madcap multi-coloured experience.

Anyone is free to walk about and despite the surrounding poverty, shoes, toys and other items are left untouched. Visitors are urged to contribute whatever they want - it is a non-profit making venture.

For more details or send your donations to: The Heidelberg Project PO Box 19422, Detroit, Mi. 48219 Info: 313 537 8037


update: Feb 99: The project gets demolished. We've received the following report from the The Detroit News dated 05th Feb 1999(Copyright 1999) "

DETROIT -- The polka-dot walls came tumbling down on Heidelberg Street on Thursday -- along with rusted bikes, upright vacuum cleaners, baby dolls and car hoods.

Less than an hour after Wayne Circuit Court Judge Amy Hathaway apparently lifted a temporary restraining order, city bulldozers began dismantling much of artist Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project on the east side.

But no order was ever signed by Hathaway; she will hold a hearing today to ask city attorneys to explain their actions.

The project has drawn more than 200,000 visitors from 75 nations, making it one of Detroit's top tourist attractions. The Detroit Institute of Arts owns some pieces.

But it fell out of favor with many neighbors and officials.

'The mayor and the City Council call this an eyesore. All around here are abandoned structures,' Guyton said. "


UPDATE 7th June 2001:
BIRMINGHAM, Mich. (AP) The creator of Detroit's controversial Heidelberg Project has taken his unique art form to the suburbs.

Tyree Guyton gained fame with his Heidelberg Project, which drew curious onlookers from around the world and criticism from members of a neighborhood association. It began in 1986, when Guyton applied his unique art style to trees and houses on an east-side Detroit street.

On Monday, Guyton unveiled his latest work, dubbed the Birmingham Project.

He covered a Birmingham house, which is expected to be demolished by the end of the month, with a rash of multicolored polka dots.

Owner Michael Poris, a board member of the Museum of New Art, said inviting artists and neighbors to use his home for art was a way to honor it.

Guyton led about a dozen artists and neighbors on Monday. They dipped brushes in mixed paints and drew whimsical circles and Guyton's signature polka dots on almost every inch of the 60-year-old house.

"I just told them to start off with the dots and have a good time," Guyton said.

Not everyone was pleased.

"It's ugly, garish and shocking,'' John Odneal, who lives across from the dotted house, told The Detroit News. ``Why couldn't they have painted the inside so the neighbors wouldn't have to look at it?"

The Heidelberg Project featured polka dots, old shoes, old dolls and other found objects. In 1999, about half of it was bulldozed by the city after representatives of a neighborhood group complained that it inhibited prospective home builders.

Guyton, 45, will travel to Mount Vernon, N.Y., next month to begin working on an exhibit, said Jenenne Whitfield, director of the Heidelberg Project.
(Report from AP)

views of the Heidelberg Project


(all photographs by Emerald Mosley)

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