One of the top US cities for street art is Michigan’s Detroit. The city is a creative hub in the north of the country, and urban art is being used very effectively to revitalize areas of the city and its bland concrete canvas. Empty spaces are being reclaimed and large-scale artwork is decorating alleyways, buildings, and much more.
Of note is Grand River Avenue between Rosa Parks Boulevard and Warren Avenue. With permission from local business owners, graffiti artists were commissioned from 2012 to create what is now the Grand River Creative Corridor. It has allowed the local creative community to take ownership of the precinct for positive change. Today, a fine arts outdoor gallery and almost one hundred murals decorate the space, creating a tourist attraction where just a decade ago one was not present.
Not only is the project a great way to brighten an otherwise bland urban landscape; it is also a powerful deterrent to local taggers. Why is this? Taggers generally respect the canvas of street art. Since the project began, vandalism and territorial graffiti in the area have sharply declined.
Other notable street art areas in Detroit include:
- The Heidelberg Project – with art by Tyree Guyton, it is self-described as “medicine for the community”. It spans two city blocks on the lower east side of Detroit. It is affectionately known as Detroit’s “Ghetto Guggenheim”.
- One Campus Martius – on the side of this building, Shepard Fairey’s 185-foot mural is his largest to date.
- The Z Parking Garage – zigzagging the corners of Broadway and East River, and Gratiot and Library, The Belt is a gallery between the two wings of the garage and features collaboration and mural artists from all over the world, including Mexico, Australia, and Greece.
- The Alley Project partnered the Detroit Collaborative Design Center with Young Nation to create a graffiti art gallery in a neighborhood alleyway.
- Man in the City – thirty orange men by John Suave can be seen throughout the city’s rooftops, including on the Detroit Opera House and The Old Shillelagh.
Detroit’s Eastern Market has a long history of public art, and between September 21st and 28th, Murals in the Market will be held. This public arts festival will see more than fifty world-class street artists paint large-scale murals in Detroit’s Historic Eastern Market precinct.