Detroit: Outriders meet Lolita Hernandez


The Facts: Jenni Fagan arrived in Michigan, departed Michigan.

The Artifacts: More than we can list at the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, objects that might once have been garbage, but are now art. Also an 80-foot-high Uniroyal Tire, Murals and more murals, Monkey Bread, traveling cheese.

Jenni Fagan and I wasted none of our precious Michigan time. We drove out of the airport,  past the super-dooper Uniroyal tire











at 77 miles an hour (the speed you can usually drive on the highway without getting pulled over), to arrive at the home of Lolita Hernandez, fiction writer and poet


who gave us some of her neighbor’s macaroni-and-cheese casserole, introduced us to her big handsome dog Mona Mi , and took us on a whirlwind tour of some of her favorite Detroit venues, starting with the Eastern Market (best farmer’s market in the country, if you ask me); at the market I ran into high school English teacher Jim French and five of his AP students who’ve been reading Once Upon a River in their classroom  (see photo). At the Devries & Co. shop, I chose from a list of 2000 cheeses some Manchego that I thought would travel well without refrigeration. We also visited Bert’s music club (see photo of Jenni below entering the Motown room.)

We saw a lot of murals—Detroit is full of murals—and one of them included a painting of Lolita Hernandez (see her photo). We spent some time wandering through the Heidelberg project (see photos–I also have videos and I can post them if you want to see them.  Also see the Joe Lewis arm sculpture below, referred to as “The Fist” and finally the train onto which I loaded Jenni to send her to Chicago, where I will join her on Tuesday.




We met Lolita Hernandez at her apartment in Lafayette Park.














sculpture in Heidelberg project.


Heidelberg project


Heidelberg project.


Portraits including Lolita Hernandez.


River Rouge.


Joe Lewis statue, “The Fist.”


Below is a paragraph about the Heidelberg Project that I swiped from Jenni Fagan’s site, which you should check out–she has a lot more photos.

Heidelberg Project in the McDougall-Hunt neighbourhood. It was created in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton. His wife and grandfather (Grandpa Sam) got involved too. Tyree Guyton began the project as a political protest after watching the childhood neighbourhood he grew up in go radically downhill after the 1967 riots. He said when he came back from serving in the Army his home area looked like a bomb had went off. This transformation in an area where people used to be afraid to walk even during the day, has evolved over decades. Tyree works with kids on the block making the artwork a true part of the community. In 2005 it go the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence. There is something really magical about the Heidelberg Project and the art sculptures just next door — I will always remember it, it’s one of my favourite memories of this Outriders trip so far.

For more info about why I’m traveling like this and hanging out with Jenni Fagan of Edinburgh, check out the Outriders site:


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Jenni at Bert’s Music Club!


About bonniejocampbell

I'm the author of ONCE UPON A RIVER, AMERICAN SALVAGE, MOTHERS TELL YOUR DAUGHTERS, Q ROAD, WOMEN & OTHER ANIMALS. I love Michigan, donkeys, black walnuts, blackcap raspberries, Flannery O'Connor.
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