Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project has defined the near Eastside of Detroit for more than 30 years. The McDougall-Hunt area is typically where people visit the Heidelberg Project houses and works of art, but Tyree has spread his influence across the Eastside, from Mt. Elliott to Eastern Market.
The Heidelberg Project has a somewhat clearly defined area along Heidelberg Street between Mt. Elliott and Ellery, but I noticed countless artifacts (think #TyreeDot) spread across the Eastside near the project area.
From March 2017 and May 2018 I began driving the streets one-by-one beyond the Heidelberg Street core. Tyree has a very recognizable painted dot, often paints a “1 2 3” number series, and clocks, clocks, clocks. As I came to the end of May 2018, I noticed the graffiti and demolition brigades were starting to remove many of the artifacts that I found. The bones of an old brick house were demolished and a Tyree clock artifact was lost, the graffiti team did a sweep of Mt. Elliott and numerous clocks and dots were covered in layer of brown paint, as a result many of these mapped artifacts no longer exist.
The Polka Dot House is the iconic symbol of the Heidelberg Project, but Tyree painted dots across the Eastside and likely painted more clocks on vacant, abandoned, and blighted structures in the neighborhood.
The clocks have become a major theme at the Heidelberg Project and we find that this is a time for us to reflect where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going.
In a more philosophical sense, the clocks parallel reference to what the great philosopher Plato said about time, which was that “time is a moving image of reality” and how Albert Einstein said that “time is an illusion.” Therefore, the times painted on the clocks do not hold a particular meaning in reference to time but pose questions of: What time is it? What is your reality? What time is it for you in the world today?