Places I Love- Detroit: The Heidelberg Project 

Today I’m starting a new series on this blog called “Places I Love.” I’m obsessed with exploring my city and finding awesome little gems, great restaurants, cool museums or shops, all types of sweet, must-share, well known or not-so-known experiences. Since I’m based out of Los Angeles, I will definitely start highlighting my favorite spots there. However, we also split our time with Detroit, and I’m really growing to love that city as well. To that end, I’ll be sharing some of the places that really excite me there, too!

You can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t keep her from falling for a guy who still lives there and is so great she has a long distance relationship with him and even marries him and then has to go back there all the time.

That’s the saying, right?

To kick it off, I want to tell you guys about the Heidelberg Project, a crazy and amazing art installation/ community/ program in downtown Detroit. Not the super gentrified, condos popping up, high-end restaurants, shiny and new part of downtown Detroit, but near and yet somehow very far from there.

“The HP” was founded in 1986 by the Detroit artist Tyree Guyton. He returned to Heidelberg, the street where he grew up, and found it in shambles and decay. Guyton had already lost three brothers to the streets, so, encouraged by his grandfather, he picked up a paintbrush and decided to use art as his weapon. 

Guyton introduced the concept of found object art in this community. They began cleaning up the empty, abandoned lots, creating giant sculptural pieces with the refuse collected. Not too long after, the entire neighborhood was transformed; even the houses became giant works of art.

The Heidelberg Project may not be around in its current form much longer. After 30 years, the artist feels it has served its purpose, and is looking to Heidelberg 3.0, which would dismantle some of the larger pieces in favor of smaller installations throughout the area. I recommend going to see it very soon before this happens. Park your car and wander around the few blocks, taking it all in, before this awesome space is transformed into something else. It’s a sight to behold.

The HP also has many community outreach and artistic programs, and Guyton has a pretty incredible story and career. There have been arsons, city-ordered demolitions, fights for their right to exist, many protests, and, most of all, some fantastic art created. To read more, check out https://www.heidelberg.org/

Here are some photos I took on our recent visit to the neighborhood. They don’t do it justice, and you don’t get to chat with the people sitting on the front porches of their art project homes, but at least it’s a little taste of what is and what may not be much longer. It really takes your breath away!

From the website: “The clocks have become a major theme at the Heidelberg Project and we find that this is a time for us to reflect where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going. In a more philosophical sense, the clocks parallel reference to what the great philosopher Plato said about time, which was that “time is a moving image of reality” and how Albert Einstein said that “time is an illusion.” Therefore, the times painted on the clocks do not hold a particular meaning in reference to time but pose questions of: What time is it? What is your reality? What time is it for you in the world today?”

I can’t describe the visceral response I had to this in person. It shook my core.

Visual reminder that 12 fires set by arsonists rocked this street between 2013-2014.

That pink babydoll is terrifying, no way around it.

Steve was excited to find an old Saab, of course.

Because an actress always finds a way to be on television if it’s available to her

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