I have been paying attention to the Heidelberg project ever since I heard of and visited it during an art gallery event. I believe it is a great potential model of the way that art can strengthen communities, and of how healthy and empowering a consistent "grass roots" effort can be. The "dot" theme is sheer genius and deceptively simple. The dots unify the project and seem to me to become/symbolize creative and communicative particles that open doors to expansive experience wherever you stand, as well as creating pathways to link you with the world. They take on life and become encouraging friends in a challenging time. This reflects the project as a whole.
My fiance and I had traveled out to Detroit for a wedding. It was our first visit to Detroit and the groom told me to check out The Heidelberg Project. As we approached the neighborhood, we parked and started wandering around the exhibit. My fiance noticed a man sweeping the streets and performing some yard maintenance so she went over to ask a few questions. Well, the person was Tyree Guyton and he spent the next few hours of his day walking around with us explaining details of the exhibit and answering every question she and I had for him. He was a very impressive person from the way he carried himself to the ideas and artistic expressions he had created in such a desolate area. We met other volunteers around the neighborhood that were just as friendly and helpful as Tyree. The exhibit to me was amazing, to see someone put that much time and effort into their own neighborhood so that the people of the area had something to be proud of was simply awesome. Detroit is struggling and the area around the exhibit is as poor and desolate as I have seen in the U.S.A., but the exhibit brought an aura to the area that puts visitors at ease and is a beacon of hope in a city that is desperate for optimism. As we left the area I could tell that my fiance had just taken her first walk through a poverty stricken area and she was amazed at the kindness of the locals and how one idea could provide so much life to area that would normally seem dead to a visitor like ourselves. The attitude and ideas expressed in the exhibit are the type of ideals the USA needs right now in order to pull itself out of this economic crisis. Tyree Guyton is one solid man running one incredible non-profit.
I have been to visit Tyree Guyton and his Heidelberg many times over the last twenty years. It is my "go to place" when out of town company visits our city. During Thanksgiving 2009 weekend, I scheduled a fun Detroit day and again brought down my family. After a visit to the Avalon Bakery, we drove to HP. Tyree greeted us warmly and invited my son, Zak to paint a polka dot on his house. Huge honor! We took lots of photos and felt like it was a real big honor to be present during this historical opportunity. My guests were blown away by the experience of visiting this living and breathing tribute to creativity. As much as I love it and appreciate the artful and political statements he makes, I have to say, having my son be part of this Detroit legacy will never leave my soul. Thank you to Tyree, Sharon and all the other artists who are inspired by outsider art...Heidelberg is a gift our city gives to everyone who takes the time to really see Detroit.
In my opinion, the Heidelberg Project has created a new definition of "urban art" Tyree Guyton has taken a run-down block in Detroit which looked like any other dilapidated city street and with simple materials has transformed it into a world renowned art scene. It is a place of great beauty in a broad and worldly sense. Indeed, Tyree Guyton and Heidelberg is known and respected internationally. Heidelberg is both a symbol and reality of what can emerge from the ordinary to the extraordinary when talent, energy and purpose combine. The Heidelberg Project has given hope and a new concept of beauty to the City of Detroit. It has inspired many, young and old to see their surroundings and their city in a new and creative way. Thousands of people have learned and grown as a result of their contact with Heidelberg.