Tyree Guyton’s Next Vision for Detroit

By Amanda Lewan on January 20th, 2013 / Comments

Bits of brick would tumble off the abandoned building next door to Tyree Guyton’s Midtown Studio. When the Heidelberg Project’s creator returned in November 2012 from a year long stay in Switzerland, he found his Midtown neighbor still idle, still empty.

Tyree went to work lining the steps with old shoes, and the walls with bright colors. Orange, teal, and red now mark the sides of this grey building off Watson and Woodward, demanding every Detroiter’s attention.

The steps have a meaning, they’re symbolic of the giant steps we’re taking in the city,” said Executive Director Jenenne Whitfield.“People are excited about it. They love the fact that he’s transforming the building into something fun.”

Art is a way for Tyree to take action in a city that has suffered from decades of blight. Like the wheel in the automobile or the brightly colored Heidelberg dots, everything Tyree Guyton see’s is part of a circle of life. This includes Detroit, a city that has seen vibrant growth as well as death in population and urban decay. We are now entering the time for rebirth, a time for grassroots, arts, and small businesses to drive the city towards change.

A man continuously inspired to take action for Detroit, Tyree Guyton is inviting the world to watch our creativity and arts thrive. He has new plans for the city of Detroit.

Read Kim’s Interview with Tyree Guyton.

The Brewster Buildings

Tyree Guyton has a new vision for his work: transforming the Brewster Buildings in Brush Park into a monument of art. Once a home for hundreds of auto workers, the Brewster Buildings are gutted and left open along other bustling areas of the city like the Eastern Market.

Detroit Art
The Brewster Buildings

The buildings have long been considered a part of Detroit’s history. When opened in 1935, the projects were the first public housing for African Americans.  Mayor Bing recently announced the demolition of the vacant buildings, though as of today the buildings remain standing.

Tyree has another idea, one that calls us to rethink urban decay and Detroit arts. He wants to transform the buildings into a large work of art, an innovative and beautiful place for Detroit.

“The theme is called rise high. It’s our way of sharing with the world the importance of elevating our thoughts and seeing what’s possible, even in the structures that aren’t ideal. It’s about seeing beyond that and seeing the beauty that exists,” said Tyree. “Right across the street is the stadium and all of this energy. Why not create new energy here?”

A monument could help continue to attract artistic energy and talent to a city that is in need of driving creativity and innovation.

“I believe in transforming those buildings into something artistic, something new, something different,” said Tyree.

Detroit Art Attracting the World

The Heidelberg Project receives visitors every day from outside of the United States. When we spoke with Tyree he had just welcomed visitors from Germany, and the day before that, Russia. A monument could continue to draw the world to Detroit’s art.

“How do you bring the world here?” asked Tyree. “And then once you get the world here how do you keep them coming back?”

Tyree believes that art can help offer a new perspective for the city, for newcomers, visitors, and life-long residents.

“I think we get stuck a lot of times. Our way of seeing things, doing things, we get stuck. The world is saying to us try something new. If you have all of these vacant lots in the city of Detroit, and you have young talent that’s saying we can do something, get out of the way. Let them flourish.”

Everything Connects

Tyree was recently featured in a short video, Explore: Detroit, focusing on Detroit’s rebirth. The documentary reminds Detroiters how tied we are to a past that has been segregated, split into classes and races, run down by greed and stalled by a lack of reinvention.

In a stage of rebirth, we must ask ourselves: What can keep us united? Art and creativity may be a way to connect us, to unite a culture.

“Arts and culture are going to be Detroit’s new industry. It’s been buried long enough under the wings of the godfather, that would be the automobile industry, their wings have been clipped. Now here we come. Now it’s art and culture, and grass roots, and small businesses. The small person has come back full circle.” — Jenenne Whitfield

Where there is creativity, there is innovation. Nourishing creativity and the arts can help the city, the region, and everyone drawn to Detroit arts to continue to connect and grow.

“Life is forever changing. So are you. So is creativity,” said Tyree. “You utilize what’s here in Detroit and you open it up for the world to come. I’ve said over the years the importance of networking, not only here but around the world, and connecting. Everything is connected.”

“Everyone is an artist, and we’re attracting the world,” said Jenenne.” There’s creative energy just waiting to explode in the city.”

 heidelberg project detroitThe Heidelberg Project

Tyree describes his current work as asking us the question: What is art today? The Heidelberg Project is currently working to build an active community center where the outdoor art project lives on Detroit’s Eastside along with the monumental vision for the Brewster Buildings. Support their project now by visiting their website, and also connect with the project online.

Photo via Heidelberg Tumbler.

For more insights on the Heidelberg Project, check out The Awesome Mitten’s recent trip to the Project. For more on Tyree Gutyon’s art, see The Art of Tyree Guyton.

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.