Get out of the house 

Summer is our time to get out and explore. To see and to sweat. It's the time to call out around the world for Martha Reeves and the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street," Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues," Sheryl Crow's "Soak Up the Sun" and endless renditions of Gershwin's classic from Catfish Row. It's the season for beaches and barbecues, festivals and road tours, tanning in the sun and looking for shade, guitars on patios and mega-concerts, driving with the top down, staring up in the night sky at the Milky Way.

Need more specific suggestions? In this Summer Guide edition of Metro Times, we have scads of suggestions in our summer listings in addition to the usual plethora of ideas for the week ahead in the Night & Day section. And we have a look at what the discards and detritus of summer tell us about who we are.

But this summer, we especially want to help you take a look at the art that some of your neighbors are creating right in their yards.

Discovering magic

There are hundreds of fascinating folk-art environments, celebrated and forgotten, around the nation and overseas. Howard Finster's Paradise Gardens in Pennville, Ga., and postman Ferdinand Cheval's Palais Idéal in Hauterives, France, are among the most renowned. Locally, most of us are familiar with Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project, and a few of us remember Rosetta Archie, whose junk art lined Beaubien north of East Grand Boulevard back before the public cared so much about the polka dots. But yard art is abundant in metro Detroit, and discovering it can be magical. It's intriguing to think about what turns a hobby into an all-consuming obsession that knows no boundaries, except those imposed by property lines and city officials.

In this special section, we bring you places where ordinary people have felt called to put their own vision of beauty out where their neighbors (and the world) can see it.

Preservationist Lisa Stone coined the term "life-specific art," and it fits these artists. The visionaries are personalizing their private plots as an expression of hometown pride and spiritual devotion. A couple of these locations are so impressive they deserve national recognition, not to mention funding from the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (a Wisconsin-based foundation dedicated to preserving art environments), before they are vandalized or demolished, or nature simply takes its course, destroying decades of passionate work.

So go see these places in full bloom, when the greenery becomes one with the art — when ivy crawls up wood totems and creeps through the cracks of old cement, a hibiscus flower the color of fruit punch bends near the bright blue shards from a broken plate, and sunlight falls through tall trees, speckling stone.

You have the whole summer ahead of you.

A slice of Americana
By Rebeca Mazzei

Behind his pizzeria, it’s Rome sweet Rome.

Suburban sanctuary
By Rebeca Mazzei

Primrose crosses paths with primitive.

Burke’s work
By Sarah Klein

Body parts, broken buildings — and blossoms.

Fourth Street fare
By Sarah Klein

Art and life as neighbors.

Reach for the sky
By Sarah Klein

A world of wondrous whirligigs.

Welcome to the dollhouse
By Sarah Klein

Second leases on life for discarded toys.

Summer losers
By Jason Bitner

A collection of photos and notes from Found Magazine.

Summer Guide Spotlights
By Eve Doster

Training our sights on some summer delights.

Send comments to

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Speaking of...

Read the Digital Print Issue

February 24, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation