For the shell of it

Anyone frequenting downtown Detroit surely has noticed the proliferation of turtle graffiti on everything from abandoned buildings and road signs to the Whitney and Tiger Stadium. Whether the burgeoning herd of turtles symbolizes the glacial pace of Detroit revitalization or some fascination with the ponderous creatures, their appearance on historic buildings and over artwork is infuriating some in the artsy Cultural Center area. So peeved is Aaron Timlin, director of the Detroit Artists Market on Woodward, that he’s offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the turtle perp or perps, who leave the marking “TRTL” and “TURTL” along with minimalist renditions of the reptile. Timlin’s looking for supporters to up the ante, and has already received $100 from downtown property owners Preservation Management to add to his own $100. Timlin says “TRTL” shows “disrespect and callousness to the people and the spirit of the City of Detroit.” The turtle-doer set Timlin off when he or she marked a sculpture in front of the gallery. “Most legitimate graffiti artists don’t touch that kind of stuff, they don’t cross that line … the line between graffiti and vandalism.” Timlin calls the works on private homes, beautiful architecture and historic buildings “insidious conduct.” He’s asking the citizens of Detroit to rise up and seek a sentence of five days in jail or one year intensive community service and an apology from the writers. A person in the graffiti world who asked to remain anonymous informs Metro Times that the perp is actually four different people. Michael Solaka, director of the New Center Council, says TRTL is a “litterbug” that doesn’t deserve comment. But Riva Sayegh, vice president of the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, says she thinks the TRTL has been effective in getting across its message.

“I’ve noticed it so much lately and I don’t like it, but I feel it’s not my decision to determine if this person should be sought,” adds Sayegh. “Who are we to say art can’t be revolutionary and illegal, and put these rules on people?”

News Hits is reaching out to the person or persons decorating the town with turtles. Surrender to New Hits. We’ll interview you and won’t turn you in — we’re not cops. We just want you to come out of your shell. Call 313-202-8047.

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Metro Times Staff

Since 1980, Metro Times has been Detroit’s premier alternative source for news, arts, culture, music, film, food, fashion and more from a liberal point of view.
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