DETROIT: Recycled

16 Sep

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Beauty can be found everywhere. From the most obvious places like Detroit’s riverfront and Belle Isle to the less conspicuous alley or neighborhood garden. Today we are visiting places off the beaten path, the nooks and crannies of the city. Lincoln Street Art Park and Sculpture Garden is just a short distance from New Center; murals, sculptures, a fire pit and gardens all reside in the shadow of the iconic Fisher Building. We park on the side of Lincoln St, walk over to the low-cut lawn and have a look. 

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With curiosity as our compass we walk through the park, on the backside of an old industrial building, boarded up windows are decorated with murals, Lincoln is spelled out over several. Graffiti, street art and elaborate scenes cover concrete surfaces, we recognize certain artists work from other places in the city; the owl is one of my favorites. Over to the left a field of painted poppies covers a wall. In a mulched garden daylilies are out of bloom but lovely metal-sculpture flowers bloom year-round.

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The dinosaur sculpture is imposing; a closer look reveals chairs, a cart, step stool and a bevy of salvaged materials used in the construction, he’s huge and seems to patrol the park, keeping watch. It’s like visiting an art gallery, we wander from piece to piece, me going one way, Kris the other; each fascinated by what we see. A rusty metal sculpture reminds me of a rainbow, Kris admires the vintage steering wheel. Discarded items are put together in unusual and pleasing ways, the gypsy with wings, the combination of fluted sheets of plastic and metal rods, old pieces of wood. 

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We walk Lincoln St to the underpass, more artwork by well-known artists. In the center brick pathways lead in both directions along the elevated train tracks, I wonder what they were used for. The golden tower of the Fisher building seems as though it’s only a stone’s throw away, the U-Haul building is visible too. The entire expanse of concrete before us is a collection of colors, forms, letters, designs, all mashed together; the face of the American Indian is captivating. We climb the elevation to the train tracks and get an entirely different perspective on our surroundings; the sculpture park below us looks small, contained. Train tracks stretch out for miles in opposite directions, one way leads to the city, the other looks so rural. Walking further we pass ancient looking lampposts, an old water tower watches over us, we reach the next overpass, cars whoosh by below us on Trumbull, a train rumbles by the next track over, my heart pounds with excitement.

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Investigating the underpasses reveals a wonderful collection of characters; storm troopers, panda’s, a flamingo, a doughnut with a cigarette sipping a juice box. Arches create frames, every surface is considered a blank canvas. Fel 3000 ft has created an amazing scene of buildings, bridges, skyscrapers; a city in motion. An image of a child all in blue on one side, on the other, a letter begins Dear Dad. The next underpass is completely covered in primary-colored cubes, the way the sun is lighting them is extraordinary.

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Recycle Here! on Holden resides in a huge building built by the Warren Motor Car Company in 1909. The company folded pretty quickly, the Lozier Motor Company moved in. During WWI the building was acquired by Henry Leland (creator of Cadillac) for airplane engine production, he then used it in the manufacturing of Lincoln automobiles. Dietrich Inc was the next to inhabit the structure. In 1926 Dietrich was the largest semi-custom production-body business in the country, producing 16-25 bodies a week for customers such as Chrysler, Packard, Lincoln and Pierce Arrow. Though all details are fuzzy there’s a big chunk missing in the timeline after Dietrich left; eventually a grocery distribution company bought the building which brings us to current owner, who purchased the building and turned it into the recycling center.

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Detroit artist Carl Oxley is responsible for the Recycle Here! signature bumble bee, you will see the bee everywhere throughout the premises. The building’s walls are a continuation of the art we’ve seen in the park, artists have used their imaginations creating characters and scenes from silly to scary. The art carries us right inside the building. The interior is like some kind of funky gallery you take your garbage to, sort and dispose of it. Everything here is fair game; walls, dumpsters and vehicles are covered in colorful designs, a portrait of Bozo hangs next to one of a sunglass-wearing Yoda, Mc5 and Elvira are close by.

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Huge cardboard boxes overflow with empty glass bottles, there’s a place for newspapers, magazines, plastics and batteries. A tangle of mufflers and exhaust pipes are the beginnings of a sculpture, paintings hang throughout the center. An endless stream of residents show up with bags and boxes of recyclables, music plays in the background, children are having a blast throwing things into their proper containers, neighbors and friends exchange friendly conversation. Outside used tires are stacked and used as planters, we walk around the immediate area, a manhole cover for the public lighting commission is dated 1916, buildings and bridges look long forgotten, a giant rat made from old pallets is situated on the lawn; artists have left there mark all over the district.

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Tucked inside the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is Cafe 78, a collaboration between Wright & Company and MOCAD, the dining space serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. We park in the lot and enter the building, people are milling about, an event has just finished. The museum is closed while the work on Woodward continues, the cafe remains open. The bar is the focal point of the wide-open space. We sit at the counter and sip on icy-cold water waiting for our food to arrive. The super creamy Mac and Cheese is served in a small ceramic bowl, corn and thinly sliced scallions are mixed in, a shredded cheese and breadcrumb topping add flavor and texture. The peameal bacon sliders are served on brioche buns with a honey mustard sauce, it’s a great flavor combination. The tomato mozzarella salad was larger than expected; a rainbow of summer’s juiciest tomatoes and red onions sit atop creamy pesto, topped with fresh herbs, sunflower shoots and olive oil–Delicious.

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8 Degrees Plato Beer Company on Cass had their soft opening Friday, we’re checking it out. The bar and bottle shop sells craft beer, mead, cider and has an area dedicated as the tap room. The building was most recently home to Mantra and Showcase Collectibles in the old Chinatown neighborhood; after a great deal of hard work, time and renovation the building looks amazing! The exterior features large windows surrounded by stone, old lettering on the building remains intact, inside they were able to keep the original tin ceiling and terrazzo floors. The reclaimed mahogany tables came from the former Agave restaurant as did the bar top, the bar back was constructed with oak from Cass Tech bookcases, shelving is made from old bleachers and antique bakers racks, old subway tiles and windows all work together creating a quaint, cool atmosphere.

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The 16 tap bar allows for a wonderful selection, we order 3 small pours: Oddside Mayan Mocha, Starcut Squishy and Right Brain Beaubiens Ribbon Farm sour mash red ale. Honestly, they were all great, but the Starcut Squishy semi-sweet cider with cherries really hit the spot, so we ordered another, full-size this time. It’s fascinating to just walk around looking at all the bottles; Michigan Craft Beers, regional beers, imports, Belgians, the list goes on. You can have a growler filled or pick up bottles, cans, 4 packs, 6 packs, cases– room temperature or ice cold. They sell snacks too, think Better Made chips, crackers, jam and jerky. 

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The transformation taking place in Detroit right now is incredible, astonishing. Buildings with impressive history or once beautiful facades and interiors, shuttered for years, are being uncovered, repurposed and used again. The recycling continues……..

 

One Response to “DETROIT: Recycled”

  1. Barbara Dorda September 16, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    Loved the tour!

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