For years, people from the surrounding area of Detroit would ask each other, "Have you seen the house with all of the polka dots on it?" It's a compelling question that begs for further information about the origin of such an unusual sight. The colorfully speckled Heidelberg Project is a spot in the city that has become internationally known and receives hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
It's hard to miss the vibrant spots when you're driving past it, but the project is a little out of the way of downtown. It's located on Detroit's east side and now takes up two whole blocks with its larger than life colors and statues.
Although this block looks vibrant and fantastical due to the art, the story of the project is rooted in community hardship and a desire to do something to better the lives of those living in the area.
The artist behind it all, Tyree Guyton, and his grandfather took their paint and paintbrushes and started to transform the blighted block over thirty years ago.
He began collecting everyday items, including shoes and children's toys, and piling them up until they became sculptures in themselves.
It grew and grew until it was an unmistakable landmark of public art.
Some of the most memorable sights include a house entirely covered in stuffed animals and the one that has clocks painted on every available surface.
These are all symbols that mean something to Guyton as an artist. He has stated that the clocks represent how he grapples with the concept of reality itself.
A sight like this instantly triggers our instinct to take a photo for Instagram, but remember to be respectful of the art.
The project is deeply rooted in the artist's experience with racism and poverty in the city of Detroit. It's a joyful experience, but it should also be a thoughtful one.
You can download their app if you would like to have a guided tour on your phone during your visit.
The Heidelberg Project
Address: 3600 Heidelberg St., Detroit, MI
Why You Need To Go: This project is by far Detroit's most famous art installation and it's well worth the visit. The dedication of the artist, the vibrancy of the shapes and colors, and the depth of the inspiration behind the art are all extremely moving and exciting to see in person.