Lincoln Street Art Park gets massive new sculpture and learning center – Knight Foundation

Lincoln Street Art Park gets massive new sculpture and learning center

Above: The Green Living Science classroom at Lincoln Street Art Park. Photos by Rosie Sharp.

Have you been feeling a “freaky” but palpable urge to explore the no-man’s-land between Detroit’s Woodbridge neighborhood and the area surrounding Henry Ford Hospital? It may be that you are answering the invisible call of the newly-minted, 75-foot Freak Beacon, a fresh addition to the Lincoln Street Art Park.

Funding for the project came from a Knight Foundation placemaking grant to Green Living Science, in support of the Activi-Tree project at the Lincoln Street Art Park. Knight has supported both the Activi-Tree container (phase 1) and the Freak Beacon (phase 2) through grants in both 2014 and 2015. Fabrication of the tower and ball began on February 1 of this year, and all components were completed on April 18. The sculpture weighs over 9,000 lbs., including a 6-foot-square poured concrete base, giving it monumental power to draw “freaks” from all corners of the city, and perhaps even the nation.

The Freak Beacon.

The sculpture was designed by Ryan C. Doyle of Detroitus, who worked with Ben Wolf at Ferrous Wolf on the tower fabrication and Jonathan Isbell from Metaevol Technology—who designed and fabricated the Buckminster Fuller ‘Bucky Ball’ that sits 40 feet off the ground. The entire project was reviewed by engineer Mike O’Toole from Dash 7 Design. It literally raises the visibility of the art park, which is tucked behind Detroit’s popular grassroots recycling center, Recycle Here!.

“The Freak Beacon is made of steel,” explains Lincoln Street Art Park and Recycle Here! organizer Matthew Naimi, via email. “Once fabricated, the entire sculpture was put through a hot dip galvanizing process at V+S Galvanizing in Detroit. The galvanization process protects the sculpture from rust and oxidation while giving it the striking shiny silver look.”

At the foot of the tower is a shipping container-turned-classroom; this represents phase 2 of the Activi-Tree project. The Activi-Tree is a multi-year, multi-phase living sculpture that is part of the Green Living Science classroom in the Lincoln Street Art Park. This space is a community learning and work space, including the base for a summer camp for Detroit children, coordinated by Green Living Science, that focuses on art and the environment. “The interior of the classroom was designed by artist Eno Laget, using historic imagery to provoke conversation,” says Naimi. The container was installed at Art Prize 2015 as an active art classroom that hosted workshops and performances, all made possible through funding from Knight.

The interior of the Green Living Science classroom.

Emblazoned across the side of the classroom, and scrawled intermittently around the art park—which features works by local sculptural heavyweights like John Sauve and Robert Sestok, as well as numerous murals by various street artists—is the phrase “Share Your Candy.” Naimi characterizes this as the ethos of the Lincoln Street Art Park.

“Money never changes hands on Lincoln Street,” he explains. “Everyone has a special talent or skill, and that is your candy. The park is a place for people to come together and share their candy with others. This is how we have built art, cleaned up the park, brought people together. People come not to spend money, but to participate and experience life.”

If you’re interested in participating and experiencing life at the Lincoln Street Art Park, or just coming to check out the beacon and letting “your freak flag fly,” make your way down to 5926 Lincoln Street and check out the action. With warm weather upon us, the park will surely be hosting its roster of impromptu seasonal events, parties and happenings. “If you are in the area, stop by and see if something is going on,” says Naimi. “You just might stumble into something that will change your world.”