My 1990′s Hudson’s Building Street Art Project

on the Woodward side

Back in the mid-1990′s, I ended up taking over  Detroit’s Hudson’s Building.  For a few years, it was my “outdoor art studio.”  I’d just go down there to work.

It was a different time then.  I never got any permission and I never got arrested.

It started when a group project, the “Detroit Heroes Murals” was painted over with no warning.  I don’t even have a photo of my completed (painted) murals for Detroit musicians Tommy Flanagan and Little Willie John.  I thought that this was an insult to the artists who worked hard, for no pay.

So I started drawing on it in chalk, in protest.  I ended up spending much of my time there.  It was a lot of hard work.

I ended up interacting with the homeless people who were living in the building.  It was constant “street theatre” and a real adventure.

I got involved with the people who were trying to save the building (and met many of those who wanted it to go).

I was inspired by Tyree Guyton, Sam Mackey and the Heidelberg Project.  Also, I’d seen Keith Haring’s subway chalk drawings.  That was similar, in that it was line drawings on a black background, like a chalk board.

Then, I was used to using chalk as I’d done a large series of sidewalk drawings, most of which I’d photographed.

In late 2008, it was destroyed aka “imploded.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._L._Hudson_Department_Store_and_Addition

http://michpics.wordpress.com/2008/12/06/the-demolition-of-the-jl-hudson-building-in-detroit/

http://www.controlled-demolition.com/jl-hudson-department-store

Since its destruction, there’ve been several “tribute exhibits” including photos of my work.  I was included in a short documentary film on the building.  I also did a radio essay for our local NPR station WDET on what it was like drawing on the building.  I wrote a poem about the experience which was included in the anthology Abandon Automobile.

A lot of people had taken photos of my drawings on the Hudsons.  If you have any, I’d like to see them sometime.

Within the next few months, I’ll have a section on this at my University of Detroit Mercy site.  When it appears, I’ll post a link to it here.

http://tiny.cc/q1tlhw

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