New Detroit project replaces blight with art

By Evrod Cassimy - Reporter/Anchor, Dane Sager Kelly

DETROIT - One way to fight blight in Detroit is to just paint over it. That's just what a team of artists from all over the world is doing with help from the city.

The walls start looking like they're covered in illegal graffiti before they're transformed into works of art. It's only the beginning of what's to come from muralists in Detroit.

Bakpak Durden is creating a new mural on a viaduct in Detroit's North End neighborhood. It's one of several new murals created near the intersection of Baltimore and Brush streets. 

"So far the neighbors love it," Durden said. "They come by and they talk to us. They tell us how much they love it and we meet some cool people."

It's all part of the City Walls project. It's a way for the city of Detroit to fight blight and illegal graffiti by creating something beautiful instead.

"We have so many talented Detroiters and that's who we're trying to empower with this arts initiative," said Zak Meers. "Murals have been exploding. Public art in the city has been exploding since 2011. I think this is a great opportunity for this time period."

A $200,000 contract was awarded to 1x Run, which then paid Sydney G. James and its artists who were commissioned to create the murals for the city wall project.

It adds another element of tourism to the city. Street art is popular worldwide -- people will come as far as London or Australia to even see the walls that have been going up around the city just because a specific artist had painted it.

The mural at the intersection of Brush and Baltimore streets is one of 19 locations in the city where murals can be seen. More than 40 murals are planned, created by 25 artists. 

A complete list of the murals can be found here.

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