We’ve all seen them – the statues or public art that have seemingly always been there. You may wonder what was going through the artist’s mind when they were created. Detroit and its surrounding suburbs have many perplexing pieces. Take a tour around the city to see some head-scratching artwork.
The Heidelberg Project
3600 Heidelberg St.
Detroit, MI 48207
The Heidelberg Project is one of Detroit’s most famous art projects and bills itself as an “outdoor community art environment.” It was started in 1986 by Tyree Gunton, a Detroit resident and artist, and recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. You have likely seen the work of this group scattered throughout the city in unassuming places. Unfortunately in 1991 and 1999, some of its projects were demolished due to them being a barrier for urban planning. Despite the destruction, the organization prevails. The Heidelberg Project’s long-term goal is to make a two-block area into a cultural village of sorts and to transform unused houses into works of art.
12087 Klinger St. (alley in back)
Hamtramck, MI 48211
Hamtramck Disneyland is located in one Hamtramck resident’s backyard. The resident, Dmytro Szylak, started his project in 1992 and finished it in 1999. Dmytro uses a carnival theme and has put installations together to be reminiscent of Disneyland with items like plastic horses and yellow and red propellers. The art “exhibit,” so to speak, has lights and music that can be turned on and includes some Disneyland characters. To get to Hamtramck Disneyland, take I-75 south and exit at Caniff. Then take Joseph Campau north until you find the alley located between Sobieski and Klinger Streets.
MBAD African Bead Museum (exterior)
6559 Grand River Ave.
Detroit, MI 48208
Inside the MBAD African Bead Museum, you can find a collection from the fourth African bead museum to open in the United States. The museum curator, Olayami Dabls, has lectured about African culture for the past 30 years and was a founder of the African American Sports Hall of Fame. He and S. Jill Miller founded the museum in 1985 and in 1998, it found a new 17,500-square-foot home donated by Mrs. Ardie Reddick. The outside of the African Bead Museum is the part relevant to this article, as it is covered in many bright patterns and also fragments of mirrors, including African motifs blended throughout.
Russell Industrial Center – Lion (Chimera) Mural
1600 Clay Ave.
Detroit, MI 48211
The Russell Bazaar itself is a marketplace that is located at the I-75/I-94 junction and next to it is the Russell Industrial Center. The lion mural is located next door to the Bazaar on building #2 of the Russell Industrial Center. This lion is actually a chimera, since it has wings, and is very finely detailed. There are hints of the city’s sports teams in the mural as well. If you look closely, you can spot a Red Wings symbol within the wings. The chimera spans 4,000 square feet and is Michigan’s largest spray-paint mural. It was painted by artist Kobie Solomon in 2010.
University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) – “Orion” Sculpture
525 S. State St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Students and visitors can’t miss the giant red sculpture on State Street in front of the University of Michigan Museum of Art that was installed in October 2008. The “Orion” sculpture by Mark di Suvero is on long-term loan to UMMA and took about five hours to assemble, as originally it came to UMMA in pieces. The sculpture was originally located at Millennium Park in Chicago and is 53 feet high. The artist chose the name “Orion” for his piece because of the hunter from Greek mythology who has the constellation named after him. He chose to paint it an orange-red hue to create “contrast” between the piece and the sky.
Corner of Maple Road and Peabody St.
Birmingham, MI 48009
“L.O.L.” was designed by Kirk Newman and stands at the corner of Maple and Peabody Streets in Birmingham. Though you might be puzzled by the name, thinking it means “laugh out loud” like the internet slang, the artist has said he meant for it to mean “Lots of Luck” or “Lots of Love.” The installation was made for the anniversary of Greenleaf Trust’s southeast Michigan office and it’s on long-term loan to the city of Birmingham from the Catalyst Development Company. The sculpture looks to be of a woman wearing high heels and a man with a briefcase, presumably striding to work. It was created at Newman’s studio in downtown Kalamazoo and has been standing in downtown Birmingham since July of 2011.
Liz Parker is a freelance writer and a University of Michigan graduate with a degree in Creative Writing and Literature. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.