Surprise form the Street: Art!

Few artists can walk past an empty lot, deserted building or blank wall without dreaming of the possibilities afforded by all that open space. Here is a flavor of some "artoneers" who are claiming urban blight as free range gallery space.

Article by Bill McGraw | December 18, 2007

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With an artistic storefront, the artist known as Dabl attracts customers to his store, Dabl's African Bead Gallery, at Vinewood and Grand River. He sells thousands of African beads, some more than 300 years old, he says. (ERIC SEALS/DFP)

Aaron Timlin, CAID's executive director, added: "There's a pioneering attitude. There are so many things artists can do in Detroit because it is so spread out. Throw up a sculpture on a vacant lot. Performance art. Detroit is a big empty canvas."

The spiritual godfather of the grassroots art scene is Tyree Guyton, whose internationally known installation around Heidelberg Street on the near East Side attracts visitors every day. Guyton's artwork deals with how abandonment affects a neighborhood -- and decay is central to the work of a number of artists.

In Detroit, there are people who draw attention to abandonment by painting gutted homes orange or attaching orange traffic cones to them. There is Larry Zelenski, who produces greeting cards with lovingly enhanced photos of abandoned houses. And there is Kevin Joy, who paints cartoons, Mayan-style hieroglyphics and other wacky images on abandoned houses and in the windows of vacant downtown buildings.

Takashi Horisaki: A Latex Replica of a NOLA Shotgun House, Post-Katrina

WorldChanging: Tools, Models and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future: Art for Our Sake
by Sarah Rich | June 10, 2007 7:43 PM

When artist Takashi Horisaki left his native Japan, he moved to New Orleans to spend his first three years in America earning an BFA at Loyola University. He left before Katrina ravaged the area, and returned in 2006 to discover 'how seriously those of us living outside of the victimized area fail to grasp the reality of the tragedy suffered by New Orleans and the lethargic pace of recovery.' So he decided to help outsiders get a better perspective by creating a sculptural replica of a condemned house in the Lower 9th Ward.
This is a continuation of a series Horisaki calls Social Dress (this one being called Social Dress New Orleans -- 730 Days "

paraSITE: Inflatable Shelters for Urban Bedoins


This piece about installation artist/activist Michael Rakowitz is amazing. It serves as a case study in problem solving (shelter for the homeless); product design (portable inflatable dwellings); and systems thinking (waste energy from HVAC units recycled as life-giving heat and humidity for the homel

From Worldchanging blogger, Sara Rich:

paraSITE is an exploration of temporary urban living spaces, with an historic point of inspiration, and a more utilitarian/humanitarian purpose.


Michael Rakowitz traveled to Jordan in the mid-90s on a study program where he focused in part on the nomadic tradition of the Bedouins, and the architecture of their tents. When he returned to Boston, where he was a student at MIT, the presence of the homeless population in the city triggered a quandary for him regarding the contrast of a nomadic lifestyle by tradition versus by necessity. The nomadic patterns of the urban homeless, particularly in the cold months, were dictated by the location of heating vents releasing exhaust from HVAC systems inside houses and buildings. Many of these systems had been designed like boxes, such that a person could sleep on top of the vent and stay warm; but viewing this as a problem, the city had begun installing vertical vents which slanted downward off the building, making it impossible to rest on them.