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The Heidelberg Project
Katie Kurtz, 12 Feb 08

While the housing bubble continues to burst more and more neighborhoods are riddled with empty homes, many of which are destined to be either razed or abandoned. Perhaps there is another way to address the problem.

Twenty years after the 1967 Detroit riots, artist Tyree Guyton looked around his east side neighborhood and saw that it still hadn't fully recovered. Along with his grandfather and then-wife, he began a reclamation beautification project to help restore a sense of hope to the community.

Armed with a paintbrush, a broom, and neighborhood children, Guyton, Karen, and Grandpa began by cleaning up vacant lots on Heidelberg and Elba Streets. From the refuse they collected, Guyton began to transform the street into a massive art environment. Vacant lots literally became “lots of art” and abandoned houses became “gigantic art sculptures.” Guyton not only transformed vacant houses and lots, he integrated the street, sidewalks, and trees into his mammoth installation...

Street Sense: Celebrating 20 Years of The Heidelberg Project on view through May 24, 2008 at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum in Detroit pays homage to a neighborhood that has been enlivened by thousands of colorful polka dots. Despite the fact that parts of the project have been bulldozed by the city over the years, The Heidelberg Project continues to be a thriving nonprofit. Aside from reclaiming abandoned homes, it also oversees art programs for youth.

Where some see a problem, others see an opportunity. What are other ways neighborhoods have dealt creatively with abandoned houses?

Photo courtesy of John Baird.

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Comments

Instead of turning them into art exhibitions, how about providing housing for the millions of people who are homeless or forced to live in cramped quarters with loved ones or friends? I recently read the statistic that apartment buildings in Manhattan have waiting-lists of up to ten years. This is unconscionable in a nation with such a glut of housing (or even unused commercial and industrial buildings that can be retrofitted into housing.


Posted by: Victor Escobar on 15 Feb 08

Instead of turning them into art exhibitions, how about providing housing for the millions of people who are homeless or forced to live in cramped quarters with loved ones or friends? I recently read the statistic that apartment buildings in Manhattan have waiting-lists of up to ten years. This is unconscionable in a nation with such a glut of housing (or even unused commercial and industrial buildings that can be retrofitted into housing.


Posted by: Victor Escobar on 15 Feb 08



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