Detroit: Open Your Art

It’s fun to tour a city you’ve skirted around your whole life.


Before I get started, let’s talk about my tour guide Linda, who boldly drove me where no one had driven before.  (Because it’s Detroit.  “You’re gonna get shot if go there!” was the refrain of my childhood.)  When approaching this public sculpture park, I saw this ark and squealed, “Oh!  I have to get a picture of that for my daughter!  Look at all those lovies!”


And in the next beat Linda called out “It’s The Love Boat!”  And to me, that is what it will forever be named because: perfect moment.


When I spied the gutted Packard Plant earlier that day, Linda expertly drove down the pitted alley towards it, parked her shiny red car in front of its chain-linked gates and just before I squeezed through/broke the law, shouted “WATCH OUT FOR THE WILD DOGS!  BETTER TAKE A STICK!”  In other words, Linda was game.

First she drove me to Hamtramck Disneyland.  Yes, Detroit has a Disneyland because a retired General Motors employee named Dmytro Szylak believed in creating magic where he lived.


Like Walt, Dymtro has since passed on to Heaven Disneyland where they are probably clasped together in an immortal high-five.

After Disney and the Packard Plant ruins, we lighted upon our ultimate destination, the Heidelberg Project.



It is hilarious and touching to me that my kids have this same fish pillow.



It was created in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton and his grandfather Sam Mackey (“Grandpa Sam”).  The Heidelberg Project is in part a political protest, as Tyree Guyton’s childhood neighborhood began to deteriorate after the 1967 riots. Guyton described coming back to Heidelberg Street after serving in the Army; he was astonished to see that the surrounding neighborhood looked as if “a bomb went off”.


At first, the project consisted of his painting a series of houses on Detroit’s Heidelberg Street with bright dots of many colors and attaching salvaged items to the houses.


It was a constantly evolving work that transformed a hard-core inner city neighborhood where people were afraid to walk, even in daytime, into one in which neighbors took pride and where visitors were many and welcomed. – Wiki


I certainly felt welcomed.  I felt happy and uplifted and inspired and all the feelings public art divines in humanity.

I’m grateful to you, artists of Detroit.  Thank you for a great memory long overdue.


If you’re in Michigan and haven’t been out and about in a while, take this tour, go see these magical places and please, share this post.  But most importantly – and by all means – BETTER TAKE A STICK!


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