As the old saying goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What some have opposed and tried to burn down has stood the test of time as the community art project created by Tyree Guyton celebrates its 30th Year Anniversary this summer with lots of quirk, fun and community. Just as the city of Detroit has withstood crests and troughs in its idiosyncratic history, The Heidelberg Project has figuratively and literally risen from the ashes to serve as a world-renowned example of grassroots community building and art as an interpretive, thought-provoking, living and breathing creature.
Nestled on the East side of Detroit on Heidelberg Street, The Heidelberg Project is a neighborhood turned outdoor art installation, started by native artist Tyree Guyton in 1986. With a mission to “Improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art,” the exhibit arranges locally salvaged shoes, tires, records, dolls, cars, rubble, clocks, stuffed animals and more to create an artistic rarity unique to Detroit. Utilizing methods of painting, sculpture, installation and mixed media, the Heidelberg street attraction bombards onlookers with color, mystery, imagination, originality and thought provoking questions. Having grown up in the neighborhood himself, Guyton was inspired by his grandfather and wife to pursue his vision of beautifying the neighborhood, and has since dedicated his life to developing and maintaining the installation over the last few decades.
With the notion that “all citizens from all cultures have the right to grow and flourish in their communities”, The Heidelberg Project challenges its viewers to ask greater questions about forsaken neighborhoods lacking investment, resources and redevelopment. Creator Tyree Guyton believes that The Heidelberg Project is a statement about the community and those like it finding independence and embracing identity to produce an economically viable product. He has done this using a grassroots approach. Guyton demands the world’s attention with this attraction, bringing in general public, press, celebrities and more throughout the installation’s existence. The Heidelberg Project offers tours, lectures and gifts; and it has been featured in many publications such as TIME, Essence, and People. Guyton has also won various awards for his creation, traveling all around the globe to share his project via photo exhibition and lecture.
Detroit LIVE kicks off on Saturday August 26th at noon on 3600 Heidelberg Street. Donna Kassab of Power Entertainment Group and Jenenne Whitfield, CEO, The Heidelberg Project have teamed up to present an all ages, FREE block party for all to enjoy while relishing in the 30 year legacy of the artistic installation.
The line-up of music acts for the day-long festival is impressive; brimming with established and breakout artists that are all full of excitement to be involved in support of the event and Heidelberg. “I’ve loved the Heidelberg for as long as I’ve known it’s existence, [since] I moved down here early 2010. Actually, I did a Detroit fashion magazine shoot there for some local clothing designers [at that time]… It stands as a multi-layered/re-purposeful artistic hub of ideas and craftsmanship. Guyton has had many of my close friends through the years work with him and his team. There is definitely a closeness and the universal message is near and dear to me as an artist. It’s projects like Heidelberg that make Detroit so wonderful and culturally expressive,” Rahbi Hammond of Rah the Son explains.
Hip-hop producer and DJ Drummer B agrees, “It’s such an honor to be apart of anything that has to do with The Heidelberg Project. Anyone born and raised in Detroit knows the importance of it and everything that Tyree had to fight for to preserve and bring his vision to life. Tyree is definitely one of our finest and strongest artists going against all odds and has brought so people from all over the world just to see his work. As a Detroit-born and raised native and admirer of his work, his passion for the city and his fight to keep his dream alive, I will help support and protect his movement.”
Also performing on the Saturday line-up, DJ StacyeJ recalls, “I remember as a kid riding past the Heidelberg Project on my way to school. My mom would tell me the story behind the project and the various reactions to it. I am happy to be DJing for this event celebrating 30 years of art and beauty in our city. The project has always inspired and encouraged me to express my creative self without fear or worrying about criticism from others.”
Detroit LIVE will also be celebrated in tangent with “Thirty Months of Heidelberg,” which presents “ a series of celebratory experiences and events in conjunction to the 30 year anniversary of the Heidelberg Project,” presented by the Fred A and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation in partnership with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.
At the Detroit LIVE event, an admission free day of fun, creativity and zaniness will reflect the spirit of the installation while bringing a bouquet of programming to the space. From live music and art to vendors, food, movement classes and catered children’s activities Detroit LIVE offers a little something for everyone.
Music Lineup featuring Detroit talent:
Detroit Youth Volume
Rah the Son
Stevie Soul & Omar Aragones
DJ John Collins (Underground Resistance)
Clear Soul Forces
Audio provided by Audio Rescue Team. And in support of Detroit LIVE and the Heidelberg Project, Councilwoman Mary Sheffield for the City of Detroit District 5, will be in attendance to speak to the community. Partners include Detroit Body Garage, (Yoga) Dan Gottieb, Michigan Science Center, Audio Rescue Team and PLAYGROUND DETROIT.
On Saturday attendees can find great eats with local food trucks, view art by Detroit Metro Times Artist of the year, Sheefy McFly and jam out to the top emerging sounds of Detroit. Community is at the center of this event, just as it has been the inspiration for the Heidelberg project from its beginning through today.
Don’t miss your chance to celebrate 30 renowned years of art, understanding, society and fun at one of Detroit’s most famous attractions.
DETROIT Live Block Party Map
Heidelberg & Elba between Ellery & Mt. Elliott