Guyton grew up in the Dotty Wotty house, the most famous structure on Heidelberg Street. The house has been in Guyton's family since 1947, and his mother still lives there. The splashy dots represent Guyton's taking the path of art over the path of violence. "Tyree's grandfather put a paintbrush in his hands after losing three of Tyree's brothers to the streets. We're all happy that Tyree kept at it," Whitfield says.
"The Heidelberg Project, was started in 1986 by the artist Tyree Guyton as a creative response to the blight and decay he saw in his neighborhood. His work, using paint and salvaged objects he found on the street to decorate the houses in his neighborhood, turned the once-threatened area into a tourist destination."
The Heidelberg Project: a small colorful island in a sea of blight
The Heidelberg Project is recognized around the world as a demonstration of the power of creativity in creating hope and a bright vision for the future. Some of the houses that remain on Heidelberg Street include the "New White House (formerly Dotty Wotty)", "Number House" and "Obstruction of Justice (OJ) House", along with the Detroit Industrial Gallery, an artist studio/home that was purchased and maintained by Detroit artist Tim Burke.
The project evolved from painting a few houses to a complete revamping of the community, with efforts focused on establishing an artists’ colony, creative art center, and community garden, among other things with the help of local children and other neighbors.