Sculpture Feed

Sad News - The End of Detroit's Heidelberg Project

I am very sad to announce that The Heidelberg Project - Detroit's amazing outdoor street art installation project - is closing down. I am especially upset because I have never seen it in person, though greatly admired it from afar.I want to thank artist Tyree Guyton for his beautiful and astounding efforts at making a street a center of innovative art. It will not be forgotten.

Here are some books on the project -

Connecting the Dots: Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project (Painted Turtle)

The Heidelberg Project: A Street of Dreams

In the Shadow of an Artist: The Heidelberg Project

Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art

Here is the full story as reported in Hyperallergic:

End of the Line for Detroit’s Iconic Outdoor Art Installation, the Heidelberg Project

The "Party Animal House" which burned down in 2012.

The Heidelberg Project’s “Party Animal House,” which burned down in 2012 (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

DETROIT — It is difficult for a young artist to think about her legacy. When you’re just starting out, piecing together a voice, a practice, and some means of support is a full-time hustle; having time to think about the bigger picture is a luxury afforded to few. Legacy is the concern of the older artist, and as longtime stalwart of the Detroit public installation art movement, Tyree Guyton, who turned 60 years old this year, implied that he’s gearing up for the future when he announced last week that he would be taking down his iconic work, the Heidelberg Project, which has been 30 years in the making.

Working on his own and in a largely unauthorized fashion for decades, Guyton transformed Heidelberg Street, host to his childhood home, into a sprawling surrealist landscape, adorned with his paintings and sculptures of found objects and debris collected from around the city. While the city has in the past demolished his work, having bulldozed the unsanctioned installation in 1991 and again in 1999, in more recent years it has received international recognition, transforming into a nonprofit that has seen hundreds of thousands of visitors.

The "Obstruction of Justice" House, also a casualty to the string of arsons targeting the Heidelberg Project.

The “Obstruction of Justice” House, also a casualty to the string of arsons targeting the Heidelberg Project.

But it’s the beginning of the end, as Guyton unveiled somewhat opaque plans to “dismantle” the Heidelberg Project over the course of the next two years. While the artist and his organization are quick to stress that some version of the project will remain within the original footprint, there are plans to deconstruct the work, piece by piece, with some of it going to museums, and other parts slated for an as-yet amorphous reconfiguration into something more community-based and less dependent on the animating spirit of Guyton himself. More often than not the artist has been found working on the grounds or posted up in the on-site Information Booth, receiving an international coterie of visitors, asking them to sign the guest book, and expounding on his vision and his process to all who ask.

The information booth, where visitors to the Heidelberg Project can often find the artist.

The information booth, where visitors to the Heidelberg Project can often find the artist.

Love it or hate it, the sheer scope of the Heidelberg Project and the attendant effort to build and maintain it is astonishing.

A detail of Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project

In many ways, it’s astonishing that Guyton has kept the project going this long. First off, there’s the sweat equity invested in the expansive installation, which includes abandoned houses covered in stuffed animals, painted polka dots, toys, and vinyl records; shopping carts lofted impossibly high into trees; scrap metal arranged in mini-Stonehenge formulations, a buried Jeep, and innumerable paintings on plywood featuring Guyton’s recurring subjects: taxis, clocks, faces, and the word GOD — among other things. Then there’ve been the multiple stumbling blocks, including pushback from the city and, more recently, a string of 12 unsolved arsons that targeted and destroyed many of the project’s most iconic structures, including the “Party Animal House,” the “Taxi House,” and the toy-covered “Obstruction of Justice House.” But it’s Guyton’s day-in, day-out commitment to creation and maintenance that amounts to a kind of art-farming. Guyton has demonstrated the true meaning of creating his life’s work.

Recurring themes proliferate throughout the houses and sculptures, including phones, shoes, television sets, and other pieces reflective of discarded material culture.

Recurring themes proliferate throughout the houses and sculptures, including phones, shoes, television sets, and other pieces reflective of discarded material culture.

Guyton employs found materials gathered from all over the city in his multi-media sculptures and installations.

Guyton employs found materials gathered from all over the city in his multi-media sculptures and installations.

Few people have the courage to look at all that sweat equity and decide that all good things must come to an end. While it may seem paradoxical for Guyton to consciously dismantle the very thing he has worked so hard to create, there is something to be said for arriving at closure on your terms. Whether Detroit is ready to see the end of a project that has been a part of the landscape for so many years is a different matter entirely, but with respect to Guyton himself — an artist who has spent his life making unexpected moves with little need to justify them to others — this latest decision is true to form. And in the spirit of Detroit, whose city motto translates from Latin as “We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes,” maybe some new inspiration is preparing to emerge from the Heidelberg wellspring.

How Tyree Guyton gets it done.

How Tyree Guyton gets it done.

Tyree Guyton is celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Heidelberg Project with a career-spanning solo exhibition Face-ology which continues at Inner State Gallery (1410 Gratiot Avenue, Detroit) through early September.

Suspended Forest - Hurry to See

There is something interesting happening in Queens.

Artist Michael Neff has created a Suspended Forest, built from the many discarded Christmas trees currently littering the sidewalks of New York. Neff has done this before, under the BQE, but this time he's got a legal space to display the arborcide in—no longer in the open air, the space is stuffed with the scent of pine and death. These were all collected in Brooklyn and installed a few days ago at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, Queens, where they will remain for the month of January. Behold, your discarded Christmas trees and yuletide joy are now art.


No Respect! Bulgarians Painting Soviet Monuments.

1024px-Паметник_на_Съветската_армия_18.06.2011The Moscow Times is reporting that Bulgarian pranksters are repainting Soviet-era monuments so that the Soviet military heroes depicted are recast as American Superheroes (h/t to trans-atlantyk posting at reddit’s /r/worldnews):

Russia is demanding that Bulgaria try harder to prevent vandalism of Soviet monuments, after yet another monument to Soviet troops in Sofia was spray-painted, ITAR-Tass reported.

The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria has issued a note demanding that its former Soviet-era ally clean up the monument in Sofia’s Lozenets district, identify and punish those responsible, and take “exhaustive measures” to prevent similar attacks in the future, the news agency reported Monday.

The monument was sprayed with red paint on the eve of the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s celebration of its 123rd anniversary, the Sofia-based Novinite news agency reported.

The vandalism was the latest in a series of similar recent incidents in Bulgaria — each drawing angry criticism from Moscow…

- See more at: http://disinfo.com/2014/08/russia-wants-bulgarians-stop-vandalizing-soviet-monuments-look-like-american-superheroes/#sthash.MH52Lekt.dpuf

Lock Picking As Sport - And Street Art?

Locks on bridgeAccording to The New Yorker, there is a lock picking contest going on in New York City that is resulting in some amazing "installations" of lock on public infrastructure. Almost like a street art sculpture effort.

The full article is here.

Here is the gist:

Over the past decade, “locksport”—the organized recreational picking of locks by amateur enthusiasts—has become a thriving subculture. Participants are, by definition, not professional locksmiths. This puts what they do in a legal gray area that they are quick to discuss and defend. In addition to nimble fingers and long attention spans, locksport enthusiasts try to remain fluent in local burglary law.

All but simultaneously, the phenomenon of “love locks” has exploded: padlocks with names, initials, or messages of love written on them, clipped to pieces of urban infrastructure as a public sign of romantic commitment. In some cases, the locks have been expensively laser-etched; others are simply written on with Sharpie. “Carrina, will you marry me?” “Zach + Julie, Always + Forever.” They are poetic, forming quite beautiful, rose-like clusters—and they are doomed. In nearly all cases, they will be clipped by the city and disposed of, their magic and romance lost.

On a nearly cloudless Saturday afternoon in September, recreational lock pickers met halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge to help save its hundreds of love locks. The plan was to remove as many as possible before the city’s cleaning crews could clip them, store them in red, Valentine’s Day-colored nylon bags, and, eventually, reattach each lock onto a public-art sculpture, a specially made “tree” to which all future love locks will be latched. They call this “love picking.”


Street Artists Create An Urban River

Now THIS is neat: A group of guerrilla lighting designers left 2,000 transparent plastic bags in the middle of a busy footpath in Caracas, Venezuela. The street team, Luzinterruptus filled each bag with water, tiny lights, and even plants and fish. Thankfully, the fish were plastic toys, but did get passers-by to look twice, prior to closer inspection.

Portable riverBilled as a Garbage Bag River, here is the full story. The installation encouraged people to take these “mini ecosystems” home so the river could “circulate around the city, in the hands of children and adults.” The idea behind Portable River is explained by Luzinterruptus:

"With the piece, Portable River, we wanted to bring a river of water to the center of Caracas, for which we had to package it and lay it at rest, quite an unusual thing, because there it is normal to see it overflowing the streets every time it rains,” they explain. “We wanted to stop it for one night so that people could sit down and admire its beauty and perhaps, think about the value of this element, essential to life and the challenge presented in bringing it closer to the citizens, especially in the big cities."

Impaled Pumpkins A Tradition in Cobble Hill Brooklyn

Untapped Cities reports of a wonderful tradition in the neighborhood of Cobble Hill Brooklyn - they impale the used Halloween pumpkins on a iron fence. Read the entire article here.

I love to photograph decaying pumpkins that are left on the street in NYC after Halloween but it is a real treat to see so many in one place. Their expressions are priceless. Here is one of Aby Sam's great photos. There are more at the link.

BTW, Happy Thanksgiving!

Impalements_Jane-Greengold_Cobble-Hill_Brooklyn_Halloween-005 Amy San



Faile's Prayer Wheel

Faile prayer wheel Faile is a Brooklyn based art collective which helps keep the neighborhoods vital and interesting. Take for example their Prayer Wheels which come and go on the streets of Brooklyn. Once located on North 6th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this public sculpture / street art installation has moved around town. Where it is now is anyone's guess.

These sculptural works are engineered to spin in place while people meditated to their favorite images from the collective. Keep your eye out for one of them and see what the oracle offers you.

A Bench Made Out of Metrocards

This bench is made out of New York City Metrocards and if you are a savvy New Yorker, you may find that some of these cards have value on them so the bench may be worth more than you think!

This in from TreeHugger:

In New York's subways, you see a lot of discarded Metrocards. It's sad, not only because most people drop them on the floor rather than in a trash can, but because the cards are rechargeable, and there's no good reason to dispose of them in the first place. But NYC-based artist and designer Stephen Shaheen has come up with a unique way to recycle old cards, or at least 5,000 of them: he's made a one of a kind bench.