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More art pops up in Detroit's vacant spaces

One mural by artist Marianne Burrows features a pheasant, a common sight in Detroit's vacant lots.
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One mural by artist Marianne Burrows features a pheasant, a common sight in Detroit's vacant lots.

In Detroit, massive population loss has forced people to envision new ways of using space.

Urban gardens have gotten a lot of attention. But there’s also a movement afoot to use art in a similar way.

One group of people has done just that this year with a vacant lot in an industrial corner just north of Detroit’s Midtown area. It’s called the Lincoln Street Art Park.

The Lincoln Street Art Park sits in one of Detroit’s many semi-abandoned neighborhoods, nestled between railroad tracks and old industrial buildings.

The walls of those buildings are dotted with colorful murals. There are a couple of sculptures, and a kind of “Zen garden” fashioned out of concrete.

The park is an ongoing collaboration between many people—local artists, businesses, non-profits, and more. One of them is Matthew Naimi, owner of an adjacent recycling business.

Naimi says Detroit has lost its density as a city, but there are still pockets of life.

“And what links those pockets of life are these somewhat desolate roadways. And if we can fill those in with things that inspire or bring people together, why don’t we do that?," Naimi said.

Naimi donated the land for the project, which backs up against a massive building with bricked-in windows. Naimi and others have dubbed that feature the “Ghetto Louvre,” because those windows could double as blank canvases.

“That’s going to be is an outdoor art gallery in the summer," said Naimi. "And it’s going to constantly change. We’ll be able to hang art, and also do street art in the windows.”

That’s a project for 2012—the Lincoln Street Art Park just popped up this year. But it’s part of an ongoing and growing effort to merge vacant space, re-used materials and art in Detroit.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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