Tyree Guyton decided to change things. In 1986, Mr. Guyton and several family members decided to save their neighborhood through art. His work integrated abandoned buildings, green space and the streetscape into what became known as the Heidelberg Project. Despite winning a number of awards parts of the project were demolished twice by the city of Detroit. This has not diminished the energy of the work; the Heidelberg Project has gone on to form a 501c3 and offer children’s programs, lectures and other community benefits.
The work is not without its critics, including some residents of Tyree Guyton’s neighborhood. The Heidelberg Project would probably not have been possible in a city with more development pressure. It was fundamentally inspired and made possible by the ongoing abandonment of a Detroit neighborhood. Whatever your take on its appropriateness, it is a wholly original approach to art in community. Check them out at http://www.heidelberg.org/.