Adventure · Inspiration · Soul

Destination: Detroit, again. Street Art & the Heartbreaking Loss of the “House of Soul”.

This past weekend, I ventured back to Detroit. This time around, I was guided by a good friend, photographer, and Detroit resident. He wanted to show me things that I had missed my first time around. Being a local, he knows the ins and outs – the safe spots, the disparity, the good Mexican restaurants, and the art. I am forever grateful for his willingness to cart me around, stopping here and there, taking pictures, and being an all around joy to be with! If you’re reading this, KillinItMostly, I’m forever indebted to you, and appreciate your beautiful soul more than you will ever know! One day he’ll get his blog going and I’ll feature him as a guest blogger, because he’s really just that awesome. But for now, back to Detroit.

IMG_7660Peace, love, & Detroit. Outside Lincoln Art Street Park.

This weekend was spent exploring the street art scene in Detroit. I took the train from Kalamazoo to Detroit for $28. It only took 3 hours so I think it is just as good as driving – plus, I got to spend 3 hours reading Harry Potter, win-win in my book. My trusty adventure partner picked me up from the train station (in Midtown) and we headed to grab some grub at Armando’s – can you say bomb dot com! Seriously the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. Homemade soup stock was available, and cheap, so no complaints here. We headed out to the Russell Industrial Center for an art gallery opening. Very interesting space – you can rent a loft/studio for cheap and live or create or do whatever you want there. Every 3rd Thursday they have the big opening day – so I’ll have to come back for that!

IMG_7602Detroit’s Skyline. 

We spent the night in Ferndale and woke up early in the morning and hit up Toast for some breakfast. They have killer french toast and if you’re in the area, hungry, and want some good food, check it out! IMG_7603Closest in: Granola Mountain, further away: Grand Marnier 

We scheduled my train out at 6:30pm and had all day to conquer the city – so what did we do? We took off on a tour of the town – seeing some of the neighborhoods like Indian Village, Grosse Point, Hamtramck, and others. I was shocked at how in just three blocks, you would have dismal areas to thriving areas. From homes that look barely suitable to live in, to homes that were million dollar mansions on golf courses. It opened my eyes to the problem, disparity. Although Detroit is known for being a “city of ruins” there are many places that people live in and see every day. Why aren’t we ensuring that these places are safe? How can we go three blocks east and have 24/7 surveillance by city police? I’m not sure.

We started to explore places. First, just outside of Hamtramck – The Heidelberg Project – an open air art project to promote discussion, though, action, and the healing of communities. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

IMG_7612A tower of “junk”.

IMG_7616Whimsical polka-dotted street.

IMG_7613This was the “Obstruction of Justice (OJ) House” – burnt down in May 2013IMG_7610Time is an illusion. IMG_7617Reflections in question. Stop burning down the art. IMG_7623The “House of Soul” lost its soul. IMG_7627Motown’s finest. 

Unfortunately, recent news announced that the “House of Soul” was burned down. This is the second act of arson against this project in 2013. I’m feeling very sad, but also lucky, that I was able to see this before it was destroyed. I find is disgusting that someone would burn down this place. Sure, maybe you don’t think it is beautiful, nor art, nor promoting the healing of a community – but don’t just burn it down. Sad enough, I don’t think the person who burned it down cared what the creator was trying to say. I think that the arsonist just burned it down to burn it down, without thinking about what this portrays to the world about Detroit. This art began in the mid-80s and has been a destination for art lovers from around the world. And what happened, one person just decides to not give a shit and burns it to the ground? Sickening.

Up next was urban mini-golf at the Imagination Station. On our way, we drove past Michigan Central Station. Soon, I will get inside this building and capture the beauty, demise, and memories. Rumor has it that it is, slowly, being rehabbed. I hope, one day, that we see this beauty in full life again. IMG_7638Private Property: Please Remember Me
IMG_7641
Dreaming of the future…

I really like this piece of art – an urban mini-golf course, made of “junk”. You’d have to bring your own ball and putter to play – but I’m going to next time I’m around town. The house behind it – The Imagination Station – used to be open and full of art but has recently been boarded up.

Up next was Lincoln Street Art Park – living space of Frank the Dinosaur. It took a little time for us to find this one. There are so many one ways in Detroit and I wanted to stop and look at everything, so luckily, my adventure partner was patient and finally we arrived.

IMG_7652 Frank the Dinosaur.IMG_7657Bonfire pit, murals, and my adventure partner. 

Could you imagine attending a bonfire there? Apparently, when the place was first being put together, the art students and community gathered there and partied a bit. I wish I was a part of that. However, I hope that I’ll be able to attend one of these roaring fires, soon. In all this street art, there is an underlying sense of community. Murals depict struggle, love, and freedom. Quotes say things like “I wish you the world”, or “Together we can change this”, or “The dream is now”. The community needs to come together, even more, and make sure that this city flourishes. I love this city.

IMG_7513Ending the trip with the sunsetting from Belle Isle is always perfect.

Remembering the feeling of taking the Staten Island Ferry when I was leaving NYC last week, I was reminded that Detroit was once a booming city. M-1, the first paved road in the US, is Woodward Ave. I compare this sunset and skyline to that of Manhattan’s, and it isn’t that different. Sure, there are more buildings in NYC, but Detroit isn’t too far off. Now if only I could zoom in and see the lack of people…then you could see the difference. But it gives me hope. I have hope in this city…because well…Detroit Hustles Harder. And harder we will fight to ensure this city comes back from the ashes.

4 thoughts on “Destination: Detroit, again. Street Art & the Heartbreaking Loss of the “House of Soul”.

  1. Did you get to visit the Packard plant? It’s on mount Elliot off of I-94. Probably not very safe but lots of art .. I haven’t been exploring abandoned buildings myself but quite a few folks on Instagram that I follow do explore .. Some have posted pics from inside the central station as well ..

    1. I haven’t been to the Packard yet! We were planning on it but it was such a short trip it just didn’t work out. I did see a few people going inside Central Station so I hope I can do that sometime soon! 🙂

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