Posts Tagged ‘sculpture’

On a recent bicycle ride I stumbled upon a little fenced-off lot on Detroit’s far east side. At first I didn’t pay much attention to it.  It was a relatively small lot with a basic two railing fence that lined the property on all four sides. The fence was painted green. Within the fenced lot were small, green plants that looked to be nothing more than short stemmed weeds. But, as I soon discovered while peddling alongside of it, there was more to this fenced in lot than what I realized.

Green Fenced Lot _2711

There were a series of tall metal rods with various auto parts mounted on the top of them, creating an interesting sculpture of tall grass stems with the parts representing seeds or flowers. The metal rods and parts were painted green, basically matching the fence and green plants growing in the lot. The sculpture pieces were placed close together and had a unique wind chime sound as a gentle breeze blew them into each other. In front of the installation was a sign that read “Green Grass by artist, resident and advocate for the eastside Glenn A. Urquhart”.

Tall Grass Sculpture_2705

Green Grass Sculpture Sign_2706

Upon a closer look at the site, I saw another sign that identified the grass within the fenced lot. To my surprise the little plants were more than weeds. According to the site sign, they are called pennycress. I understand the annual plant is being grown for its seeds that are being developed as a biodiesel. This little lot and the plants that are planted there are a small step toward biofuels that can have a huge impact on future generations.

Pennycress Sign_2707

In addition to the Green Grass sculpture and the pennycress plants, there’s a nice little landscaped garden in a small section along the street. It incorporates a rock garden and a separate small plant garden that was full of plants when I was there.

Landscaped Curbe Pennycress Garden_2715

I don’t know anything more about this lot or who is responsible for it, but it’s a positive, yet small step in a large puzzle of urban renewal in Detroit. Kudos to those responsible for pulling this all together.

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In early December I posted a story on the Man in the City project.  It’s a sculpture installation made of 43” metal orange men placed on various rooftops in midtown and downtown Detroit locations. John Sauve is the artist behind the venture. He started putting it together back in 2008 to, “…activate the skyline, and encourage people to look around”. Not only have the distinct sculptures become part of the Detroit skyline, they have been exhibited in Benton Harbor and Milford in Michigan, as well as New York City and many other locations.

While talking with Sauve about the project, he told me there are 20 of the sculptures in the city of Detroit. On my earlier bike rides I’ve spotted six of the installations. Since writing the original Man in the City blog entry in December, I’ve spotted two more of the figures: one in Detroit’s Historic Eastern Market; the other on the roof of the Woodbridge Pub near midtown Detroit.

One of many Detroit "Man in the City" rooftop sculptures

One of many Detroit “Man in the City” rooftop sculptures

Knowing there are many more throughout the city, I asked readers in the December entry to post locations for those they may have seen in their travels. In addition to the places I posted in that earlier blog entry, readers have spotted them in the Eastern Market area, on a building along Michigan Avenue near Brooklyn Street, the Detroit RiverWalk near the carousel, on Woodward Avenue in Ferndale, and one along I-96 near Milford Road that stands 30’ tall.

However, there are plenty more placed throughout Detroit. Take a look at the map and the RiverWalk piece found within the links below. There you will see where the Man in the City sculptures can be found.

Man in the City – Detroit locations link

Man in the City – RiverWalk location

Remember travelers; look up while in Detroit. You may see a little orange man watching over you!

Click here to read the the original Man in the City blog entry.

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Man in the City

Hey Detroiters, look up!  Lurking above you on various city rooftops are orange men and they are watching you. “Who are these men and why are they up there?” one may ask. The orange men are sculptures, and over 20 have been placed on rooftops throughout the city. John Sauve is the artist behind the pieces and he started the project in 2008. He calls it “Man in the City”.

Not only are the steel sculptures now part of the Detroit skyline, they have also been exhibited on New York City’s Highline, an elevated public park built on a historic freight line, similar to Detroit’s Dequindre Cut. They’ve also been on display on New York City’s Governor Island and in Benton Harbor Michigan.

According to Sauve, “The Man in the City Project activates the skyline, and encourages people to look around. In this process of looking and finding, one re-assesses one’s own position in the world and becomes aware of one’s scale within the very fabric of the city. The Man in the City Project creates a metaphor for urban life and all the contradictory associations – alienation, ambition, anonymity and fame.”

Overlooking Woodward Avenue from the Park Shelton Building - photo by John Sauve

Overlooking Woodward Avenue from the Park Shelton Building – photo by John Sauve

The first time I saw the orange sculptures, I was blow away by the idea. I think these little four-foot or so, orange guys, that for some reason remind me of Leonard Cohen, are the coolest and one of the most interesting art projects I’ve seen in a while. I love the simplicity, uniformity, and casualness of the figures. I also like how and where they are placed, as if they are on the edge of our lives, watching over me and us as we travel throughout the city. But most of all, I like the idea of being challenged and encouraged to stretch my view beyond what is directly in front of me; to look past my immediate surroundings and discover what the city’s urban fabric has to offer.

On the roof of the Park Shelton

On the roof of the Park Shelton

The Scarab Club in mid-town Detroit

The Scarab Club in mid-town Detroit

On my bicycle rides around the city I’ve spotted six of the 20 installations, mostly in the city’s mid-town area. I saw them on the roofs of the Scarab Club, Detroit Artist Market, Majestic Theater, Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, Music Hall and the Park Shelton buildings. There is also one at ground level in the Lincoln Street Art Park near Trumbull Avenue and I-94. Since discovering them a few weeks ago, I’ve had a conversation with Sauve and he’s provided me with a detailed map of the Detroit locations.

The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company building

The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company building

Music Hall in Downtown Detroit

Music Hall in Downtown Detroit

Before I post the map, I’d like to know if anyone has seen the Man in the City sculptures. If so, I’d like to know how many, where you saw them and to please post your list in the comments section of this blog. I plan on writing a follow-up story to this one in a few weeks that will include reader comments and a link to the locator map. So please post those locations and stay tuned for the follow-up!  In the meantime, look up while in Detroit!

Click here for a follow-up story on Man in the City

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