The Heidelberg Project

 

… and he passed me talking to those two kids showing them which spot they could paint on. As he looked over the kids’ shoulders, he said:

“Show me the power of your creativity folks!”

Correct, the Power of Creativity is the mix of words that the people around the world use to describe the Heidelberg Project:

The Heidelberg Project, created by the US veteran Tyree Guyton and his Grandpa Sam, more than 30 years ago, is a demonstration of the power of creativity in creating hope and a bright vision for the future”.

 

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I saw an old and broken watch on a tree and it was indicating the same hour as the watch on my arm. A paint-splattered hand touched my shoulder and almost scared me, to be honest with you. I was in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood, the city’s East Side, which is in one of the well-known American hard-core inner city neighborhoods where people are afraid to walk even in daytime. I turned my head and I saw him, Tyree Guyton, the sunny man who taught me something new:

Never stop fighting for something you love

 

He wasn’t too impressed by my reaction. People like me are probably not a big deal for him anymore. While still watching the kids expressing their art, he asked me:

“What brings you here today?”

I was speechless. I couldn’t simply say that I was pulled there out of curiosity. I wanted to seem more interested and more of an expert. I didn’t want to tell him that I couldn’t understand his art. I couldn’t give a name or a title or a simple explanation at a question:

Why?

He was reading my face. I couldn’t hide it though. It was an impossible mission and I failed. He thanked the kids and then he returned to me:

“Before judging, you should walk around for a complete visit. Then come back to me and answer my question.”

Again, I didn’t know what to say. I just followed his tip and I started to walk along the street. I took a brochure and I started to read while I was wandering around the block.

The Heidelberg Project is an outdoor art project in Detroit, Michigan. It is in part a political protest, which started as Tyree Guyton’s childhood neighborhood began to deteriorate after the 1967 riots. Many sources describe Tyree’s reaction when he returned to Heidelberg Street after serving in the army.

He was astonished to see that surrounding neighborhood looked as if a bomb went off.”

 

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At first, the project consisted of him painting a series of houses on Detroit’s Heidelberg Street with bright dots of many colors. The added oddity was the salvaged items affixed to the houses. His creative vision was 30+ years of constantly evolving work.

And here comes the best part…

On two occasions, the Heidelberg Project faced complete destructions by the City of Detroit. The first time was in 1991 under Mayor Coleman Young, and the second time in 1999 under Mayor Dennis Archer.

Do you want more?

Not even the massive fires of 2013 and 2014 stopped this man and his mission:

Fight for what you believe in!

After my walk around the block I started to build a thought. I realized how important it is to understand the art. I finally found the answer I had always been looking for:

The art needs to be explained. The art needs its artist in order to survive.

 

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As I was returning back to the car I saw him again. He was doing the same thing. He was inviting the people to go take a look around and then share with him their thoughts and reaction.

I walked towards him, but this time he was the one without words. I looked at him and with all my heart and honestly convinced I told him: “I’m honored to have met a special man like you Tyree!”

I was so happy to shake the hand of a man that one would be lucky to meet only once in his life.

Thanks Heidelberg Project for believing in a possible brighter future! I truly hope you will change your idea about closing the Project.

I don’t know why but as I was walking towards the car I had a song in my head and I hope you will enjoy!

 

“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke

 

I was born by the river in a little tent

Oh, and just like the river I’ve been running ever since

 

It’s been a long, a long time coming

But I know a change gon’ come, oh yes it will

 

It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die

‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky

 

It’s been a long, a long time coming

But I know a change gon’ come, oh yes it will

 

I go to the movie and I go down town

Somebody keep telling me don’t hang around

 

It’s been a long, a long time coming

But I know a change gon’ come, oh yes it will

 

Then I go to my brother

And I say, “Brother, help me please.”

But he winds up knockin’ me

Back down on my knees

 

There been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long

But now I think I’m able to carry on

 

It’s been a long, a long time coming

But I know a change gon’ come, oh yes it will

 

That’s “Merica” and it’s hidden curiosities…

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