A Quirky Community: Detroit’s Heidelberg Project

A Quirky Community: Detroit’s Heidelberg Project

Some grocery carts in a tree, a doll head, another doll head, and yet another… doll head? Oh, and there’s a stuffed moose head right over there.

But…that’s not all.

Heidelberg Project - The Awesome Mitten
A festive mannequin head “cooks” in an old oven at the Heidelberg Project. Photo courtesy of Amber Ainsworth.

On a section of Heidelberg Street in Detroit, there are some houses and some lots full of everything from dolls to old toys and sneakers to household appliances, which are the result of artist Tyree Guyton’s handiwork.

The Heidelberg Project takes the term “street art” to another level with over two blocks of the street overflowing with odds and ends. It will soon all be taking a different turn, though, with Guyton announcing that he will be dismantling the project over the course of the next two years. What will happen with the installation that has grown for three decades? The future is uncertain.

Heidelberg Project - The Awesome Mitten
The Polka Dot house. Photo courtesy of Amber Ainsworth.

The houses are painted. The sidewalks are painted. The street is painted. The lawns are colorful with an assortment of this and that decorating the lots.

When arson fires took several houses in the project down, it was time to rebuild — this time with even more items growing the expansive and ever-changing stretch of art. The foundations of what were once houses now showcase strollers, stuffed animals, and bowling pins.

Heidelberg Project - The Awesome Mitten
While the House of Soul fell victim to arson, it lives on at the Project. Photo courtesy of Amber Ainsworth

What is happening on Heidelberg Street isn’t just “stuff” scattered, though. The Project’s mission is to “inspire people to appreciate and use artistic expression to enrich their lives and to improve the social and economic health of the greater community.”

Beyond a street to explore, the Project stays true to its mission by offering group tours, lectures, art workshops, and various other events to engage the community. Events are taking place this month to celebrate the Project’s 30th anniversary, including a block party on August 20 and yoga at the Project on August 27, 2016.

Also, one of the houses, the Number House, is an art experience not only on the street but inside as well. The former home now houses a gift shop that includes handmade items as well as galleries that showcase local artists and photographers.

Heidelberg Project - The Awesome Mitten
Old clocks as well as painted clocks line the street. Photo courtesy of Amber Ainsworth.

Don’t just take my word for it, though! Make sure to cross number 30 off of your #MIAwesomeList and check it out for yourself. You may just see a toilet or two, a jet ski, or a few cribs that are now repurposed into a larger community initiative set on bringing people together. Make a day of it and grab your camera, then head to 3600 Heidelberg St. in Detroit.

Seriously, don’t go off of what I’ve seen on my visit because chances are when you get there the constantly evolving installment will be different again.

Heidelberg Project - The Awesome Mitten
One of many dolls that call Heidelberg home. Photo courtesy of Amber Ainsworth

Have you ever visited the Heidelberg Project? What’s the quirkiest thing you saw? Let us know in the comments!