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Junk-Heap Artist Creates New Work of Protest in Response to Razings

November 26, 1991

DETROIT (AP) _ Artist Tyree Guyton used his unorthodox junk-heap medium to rebuke Mayor Coleman A. Young for bulldozing vacant houses that once served as his canvas.

Chained to a tree Monday on a sidewalk next to the rubble of his controversial work, a rusty motorcycle adorned with naked plastic dolls sported a sign that read: ″Cheat, liar, thief.″

It was a bitter blast at Young, who dispatched bulldozers Saturday to raze the Heidelberg Street homes that Guyton had decorated with castaway items.

Young said Guyton’s fans were primarily suburbanites, not Detroit residents.

Four city workers who returned to the site Monday to remove the splintered remains were met by jeering bystanders who said Guyton’s work was a powerful expression of urban woes.

A large sign nailed to a telephone pole called the demolition site ″Another Job by the Coleman Young Construction Co.″

″They need to leave the man alone,″ Melody Guyton, 29, said of her artist brother. ″It doesn’t make any sense. Now there’s nothing for the people to come down and look at.″

Bulldozers were dispatched in response to repeated complaints from neighbors about odors and rodents, Young spokesman Robert Berg said.

Tyree Guyton, 36, had braced for the expected removal of more sculptures. It didn’t happen and Guyton was relieved enough to leave the area to do errands - something his sister said he hadn’t dared to do since bulldozers rumbled into the neighborhood.

″He’s ready to get on,″ she said. ″His attitude is, ’You knocked me off this mountaintop; I’m going to get up and go on up another.‴

Guyton had been recognized earlier this year by the Detroit City Council for his work, which he began several years ago on Detroit’s east side.

The art failed to charm Young’s office, which last year ordered the razing of a vacant house that Guyton had adorned with hundreds of naked dolls, many of them headless or armless. To the artist, the ″doll house″ symbolized the state of children.

Guyton was unavailable for comment, but his sister said he planned to erect new exhibits.

″Clean up prostitution if you want to better the city,″ she said. ″Don’t do this. This is like a nightmare.″

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