Neighbors, city upset after artist strips Detroit home, leaves blight behind

Ryan Mendoza using pieces in European art exhibiton

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®

DETROIT - In the past few years, artists have decided Detroit is a rich canvas for their messages. But neighbors in one west side neighborhood are upset about what an artist left behind.


Ryan Mendoza pulled the front facade off an abandoned home in Detroit and took it to Europe to create an art exhibit titled “White House.”

Brenda Moore talked with the artistic demolition crew last year when they took over the house at 20197 Stoepel Street.

“They were very friendly. They seemed like they were interested in the history of the house and the neighborhood,and so they took the house apart,” she said.

Neighbors also said they were told the dissected house would be torn down. But it hasn’t yet, and it’s left an eyesore worse than before.

"I think it's unfair to the citizens of Detroit. I feel like we're being exploited, you know? Sometimes, our decay is somebody else's art, but we're left to deal with what's left after somebody takes whatever was they wanted,” Moore said.

The city’s building authority isn’t happy about it either.

"This was one without city consent. This was private property. The can do what they want with it, but what they can't do is leave it like this,” said Brian Farkas, who is with the Detroit Building Authority.

He added that the project could get very expensive for Mendoza by way of an emergency demolition declaration, which could cost more than $15,000.

"This is exploitation, and we’re going to hold him accountable for this. You can't do this in Detroit anymore. This is not everyone’s canvas. These are neighborhoods, people live here,” Farkas said. “You come and do this, leave a mess like this, we’re going to clean it up quickly because no one deserves to live like this, and we’re going to come after you for the cost.”

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