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Detroit’s largest public art display to be reimagined
Aug 24, 2016

The 30-year-old Heidelberg Project, a creation of Detroit artist Tyree Guyton, is being dismantled—but it won’t disappear. As the Detroit Free Press reports, the installation, an “internationally acclaimed outdoor wonderland of wit and whimsy, painted abandoned homes and repurposed urban debris on Detroit’s East Side,” will change over the next few years into more of a community “rather than an installation driven by one man.”

Artist Tyree Guyton at the Heidelberg Project; courtesy Detroit Free Press

Guyton began the installation in 1986, painting houses in bright colors, turning rejected stuffed animals, electronics, discarded toys, clocks, his own paintings, and other objects into streetside sculptures in a then-neglected Detroit neighborhood, located a few miles from the Canadian border. The project currently sees about 200,000 visitors yearly, and hasn’t been a stranger to controversy: City officials tried to level it in both 1991 and 1999, and 12 arson fires have destroyed six of the neighboring houses.

The Heidelberg Project; courtesy Detroit Free Press

“After 30 years, I’ve decided to take it apart piece by piece in a very methodical way, creating new realities as it comes apart,” Guyton told the newspaper. “I gotta go in a new direction. I gotta do something I have not done before.”

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