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Detroit’s Heidelberg art project hit by 8 fires in 8 months

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Heidelberg Project, a famous and long-running operation that turns ugly and abandoned Detroit street scenes and homes into works of art, has been targeted by arsonists and hit by several fires in recent weeks.

The project, named after the Heidelberg Street that started it all, has been around for 27 years, NBC News reported. Founded by local artist Tyree Guyton, the project takes normal objects that clutter the streets, like tires and televisions, and turns them into tasteful and interesting works of art. The project actually spans two blocks in the city and includes several houses that were vacant, but have since been transformed and upgraded.

"It's true to the city," said project executive director, Jenenne Whitfield, in NBC. "Detroit is a city of originality."

But somebody is targeting the project.

The outdoor museum's been hit by eight arson fires since May — the most recent on Dec. 8, NBC reported. Now, four of the seven main houses included in the project have been burned completely to the ground.

Police have put out a $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the guilty party or parties. But so far, police are stumped and have no suspects or leads, NBC reported.

Heidelberg staffers are puzzled as to why the project is being targeted.

"Throughout history, art has always had that impact — someone has to remove it, steal it, vandalize it," said Lisa Rodriguez, the chief project curator, in the NBC report. "So while the fires are a horrifying and terrifying thing ... that art was burned down because of how powerful it is. That's a big statement."

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