Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wringing Art Out of Rubble in Detroit - NYTimes.com

Wringing Art Out of Rubble in Detroit - NYTimes.com: "“The inches become like little shares in the city,” Mr. Paffendorf said. “Even such a lightweight form of ownership has a really cool psychological effect. Even if they bought the inches on a whim, it would bring people into the city a little bit more.”

That invitation to appreciate the city, instead of bemoan it, is also behind some of Detroit’s best-known renewals, like the Heidelberg Project, which turns houses into found-object sculptures, and the neighborhood collaboration of Mitch and Gina, as the artist Mitch Cope and the architect Gina Reichert are known around town. They were among the first to get attention for their creative development, buying up houses for art and gardens."
Work, though, is what this D.I.Y. city has not shied away from. In June a group including Mr. Paffendorf of Loveland spent $1,000 for two abandoned houses across from the vacant Michigan Central Station, a symbol of Detroit’s decline, and, along with the Packard plant, a must-stop on any hardscrabble tour. They renamed the buildings — shells filled with debris and a few squatters — Imagination Station and hope to transform them into an artists’ enclave and green space. There wasn’t much to see yet, but Mr. Paffendorf offered a tour. “Welcome home,” he said, pushing open the battered door, with a hole where the lock should be.

The next day he and his girlfriend and partner, Mary Lorene Carter, were at Maker Faire, sitting behind a table covered in sod, publicizing Loveland. They sold 70 inches of Detroit.