Monday, November 05, 2007

On the Web: House Painting Detriot Style.

A Bright Orange house!
I saw this while surfing tonight. I really like the image, view comments...
words by Eva Steele-Saccio
photo by Object Orange

It began with a sign: a bright orange traffic detour sign standing next to one of Detroit's thousands of abandoned houses. Four local artists, a group who call themselves Object Orange, realized they could use the shocking color of the sign to draw attention to the city's pervasive urban decay. With up to 15 volunteers they staged clandestine predawn painting expeditions, covering blighted houses in buckets of "Tiggerific" orange paint. "People become blind," says OO's Mike, who, like other members of the group, prefers anonymity for legal reasons. "We want to make them take note." Out of Detroit's more than 7,000 abandoned buildings, fewer than 2,000 are slated for destruction, leaving a long waiting list of properties that have become drug dens, prostitution hubs, and dangerous neighborhood playgrounds.

Commuters have begun to notice the orange houses, as have unhappy city officials. "They may believe they are making artistic statements," says James Canning, communications coordinator for the Mayor's office, "but they are just trespassing and adding to the blight of the buildings." Eyesore or not, the orange is noticeable. Four of OO's first 11 orange houses were almost immediately demolished. Canning attributes this to coincidence and careful calculation (demolition plans are public record); the artists see it as a critical step toward re-invigorating their deteriorating city. "Our part is starting conversations," says OO member Jacques. "Some people do outreach. We paint houses orange."


  1. What struck me first about this image is that the clouds seem to be breaking above the painted ruins of a house, shedding light on the rickety structure below and on the economic hardships of a city. The image seems like a black and white. It’s cold wintery foreground and over cast skies make the painted house glow like a burning ember.
    City officials call this trespassing. They might be right, but whether or not one considers this art, a political statement, trespassing or perhaps all three it has achieved it’s purpose.
    The ruins of the city are starting to motivate city officials.

    Classic quote:
    “Some people do outreach. We paint houses orange."

  2. Interesting photo...and I can really see your journalism ability in your comment. You would have made an above average journalist, especially compared to a lot of the poor writing I see on-line now-a-days.

  3. Hey Thanks Lisa!
    Overall I consider myself a very average writer, but thanks for the encouragement. I actually started off my college career in journalism at Ball State.

    You know they have to teach journalists how to write so poorly. I took classes on how to write for TV and newspaper. They taught a style of writing that was interesting in theory but probably contributes to some of the worthless reporting we see in the media.