Turning Detroit into an Urban Art Exhibit

No other city has a reputation or stigma as strong as the city of Detroit. Detroit has long been known as a place of decay and delinquency, an overall dystopia of sorts. However, Detroit is more than its reputation and in the recent years has been slowly climbing its way out of its long-term misfortune. From new businesses to the M-1 Rail streetcar project, the city of Detroit is looking up. Another portion of the local community is also joining in to help make Detroit great again by working together to literally paint Detroit beautiful. Local artist organizations, such as The Library Street Collective, have transformed a number of downtrodden buildings and areas throughout the city into art installations that feature exciting murals and more.  This wave of artistry is in an attempt to help cultivate a sense of community throughout the city and to make Detroit striking once again. Check out any of these exciting exhibits and give some love back to Michigan’s big city.


Dequindre Cut

Formerly a Grand Trunk Western Railroad line, the Dequindre Cut is a greenway that runs from Gratiot Avenue south to Woodbridge Street, between Jefferson Avenue and the Detroit River. The 1.35-mile Cut opened in May of 2009 and was developed as part of the Link Detroit project. The greenway features a paved path, with both pedestrian and bike lanes, with grassy areas on both sides perfect for picnics and hanging out. However, the Cut is best known for the urban artwork that covers the old railroad bridge abutments that run along the pathway. Commissioned by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, the graffiti and murals are painted by both established artists and local Detroit graffitists, each creating unique installments that will make you think. The cut is always evolving and artists are encouraged to contribute.

The Belt and The Z Lot

The Library Street Collective is a fine art gallery that works with a number of other organizations and artists to commission art exhibits all around the city of Detroit. Their most recent project is called The Belt, located between Grand River and Gratiot Avenue, cutting through the two wings of “The Z” parking garage.  The Library Street Collective partnered with Dan Gilbert-owned Bedrock Real Estate Services previously to cover the walls of the 10-floor, 535,00 square-foot “The Z” parking garage, creating a useable art exhibit. Muralists from The Library Street Collective splashed the walls within The Z with unique and elaborate murals, making each floor even better than the last. Expanding this successful partnership, the two decided to convert this alley into extension of the The Z Lot’s exhibit. Murals cover each wall depicting intricate designs, portraits, and scenes, featuring big name artists like Shepard Fairey and Tristan Eaton. The Belt is structured as a work in progress installation that is always evolving. New artists will be invited to contribute to the murals and there are talks of adding European food carts and even an alley bar with furniture in the future.

The Heidelberg Project

The Heidelberg Project, created in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton and his grandfather Sam Mackey is a free outdoor art exhibit located in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood in East Detroit. Guyton began the project by covering his block of Heidelberg Street in everyday objects that serve as symbols of Detroit. From the number house, painted over in colorful numbers, to the dot house which is covered in dots of all sizes and shades, there is art everywhere you look.
The sidewalks and street are also painted over with colorful painted faces and shapes, while the grassy areas on either side of the street are filled with sculptures of all kinds. Visitors are invited to walk up and down Heidelberg, spending as much time as necessary zeroing in on all the intricate details of each installation. The project is ever changing as Guyton adds and subtracts to the organized chaos that is his masterpiece.
The project is open all day every day and is free for those looking to visit.


Murals in the Market

An event that began in September of this year, Murals in the Market is a project aimed at transforming Detroit’s historic Eastern Market District into a public art movement. The festival invited a number amazing local and International artists to paint murals on various buildings throughout the market in attempt to create a must-see public art installation. Murals in the Market is run by 1xRUN and the fine-art gallery Inner State who partnered with the Eastern Market Corporation to plan this event, creating dozens of building-sized murals that brighten up the Market, while drawing in art lovers from all corners of Michigan. Although the festival is over, Murals in the Market hosts an “Adopt a Mural” program in which businesses can sponsor a mural on their building, helping to cultivate even more artistry.