Heidelberg Park Detroit

After arriving in Detroit, my kind friend Donald Kilpatrick asked what I would like to do. “Let’s take a ride over to Heidelberg Park.” Heidelberg Park is the vision of Tyree Guyton, founder and artistic director who took it upon himself to transform a down and out eastside Detroit neighborhood into an outdoor art park.

At first glance, the grey of the industrial horizon is decorated with the spectacle of color—a mix of discarded toys, stuffed animals, telephones, boats, cars, houses, shopping carts, scraps of wood and then reassembled into a 2 block long curiosity trail.

Twenty-five years have passed since the first property was transformed into an urban Disneyland that displays Mickey nailed to a tree. Heidelberg Park’s website describes the park as a place to heal and an opportunity to reflect upon positive solutions for challenging times.

While visiting, I could not help but look at the entire park as a political statement about the challenges of urban living—drug abuse, neglect, political injustice, religious conviction, abandonment and displacement. The park’s beauty could be compared to Howard Finster’s “Paradise Gardens” in Georgia or Leonard Knight’s “Salvation Mountain” in California. The American art styles of folk and visionary styles are a way of life—direct responses to the challenges of social condition.

Thankfully, Tyree Guyton has paved a space in Detorit that invites the world to take notice. I believe, Inner city Detroit is working hard to change National perspective. Artwork is much more powerful when you see it in person. Heidelberg Park is no exception. Thanks Don.

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