Lighted buildings were everywhere in Midtown Detroit last Saturday night. Thirty-five local, national and international artists illuminated many of the historical buildings in the neighborhood in a variety of eye-catching colors and video productions, some in 3D. They were all there as part of DLECTRICITY, a contemporary light art festival that drew thousands of people including those, like myself, on bicycles. As it turned out, bikes were the perfect way to view the colorful light displays spread across the many neighborhood streets.
Right before Saturday’s sunset, hundreds of bicyclists converged in a parking lot at the corner of Second and West Warren Avenues for a light bike workshop. There, riders were given a variety of LED lights and other reflective devices that we mounted to our bicycles in preparation for a 3-mile Light Bike Parade that rolled out of the parking lot at 7 p.m. The blinking, flashing and glowing bikes headed north on Cass Avenue to the city’s New Center Avenue. From there we pedaled over to Woodward Avenue and headed south through the heart of Midtown, where thousands of people lined the streets clapping and cheering as we rode by on our way back to the starting point.
Once the ride ended, a group of us got together and bicycled throughout the Midtown area looking at the incredible lighting displays. Although every building selected for the artists to work their colorful magic on was unique in its own way, there were a few that really popped for me. The first was the Garfield Building at the corner of Woodward and Garfield Street. It featured an ever-changing variety of colors superimposed on the exterior brick that lined the windows. The windows themselves had darker, moving images that were in stark contrast to the brick outlines. It reminded me of something right out of Times Square, but without the advertising messages (first building in the WDIV video below).
Another highlight was the front of the Detroit Library on Woodward Avenue. The constantly changing lights outlined and highlighted the arches of the building, while colorful lights and ghostly images of people moved across the building. At one point, flames were shooting out from above the front door. It looked as if the building was on fire. I rode past the library many times Saturday night, and I never saw the same thing twice.
By far, the highlight for me was a simple design called “The Climb”. It was a piece that I accidentally discovered on the backside of the Sugar Hill Apartment building as I was cutting through an alley on my bike. It consisted of two thin, staggered zigzag white lines that outlined some of the building’s bricks and windows from top to bottom. On the white lines, beginning at the bottom, was a red image of a person climbing up the white lines to the top of the building. It included ghostly images of the climber stretching to grab bricks, secure safe footing and taking seated breaks in on the window sills half way up the building. It was incredibly real and mesmerizing.
Riding throughout the event I was impressed with the variety of work and the size of the crowds who came out in force. Woodward Avenue and the surrounding streets were jammed with people, even at midnight as I was heading home.
A big thanks and kudos goes out to the organizers for putting together this spectacular event and to the many artists that displayed their work. It was great!
Click on any of the names below to check out more Videos and photos from the event.