Tyree Guyton is an American Neo-Expressionist artist working in Detroit, Michigan. A proponent of Graffiti art and Urban Environmental art, Guyton created the Heidelberg Project with his grandfather, Sam Mackey, in 1986. Guyton has received international recognition as an artist, educator, and community leader, and has waged a personal war on urban blight on Detroit's East Side. Through his art, Tyree has drawn attention to the plight of Detroit’s forgotten neighborhoods and spurred discussion and action - transforming his childhood neighborhood into a living indoor/outdoor art museum.
“When you come to the Heidelberg Project, I want you to think - really think! My art is a medicine for the community. You can’t heal the land until you heal the minds of the people,” says Guyton. This iconic, colorfully-painted, polka-dotted neighborhood, inspired by society’s diversity, has played a vital role in transforming the visual indignities of poverty and brought positive, international recognition to this community.
Tyree Guyton studied at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Fine Art in 2009. Guyton’s art is featured in the Detroit Institute of Arts, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum of Harlem, and many others. He has been featured in major publications, books, and television programs (including the Oprah Winfrey Show), and was the subject of the Emmy Award-winning HBO Films documentary, "Come Unto Me, the Faces of Tyree Guyton"; and the book, "Connecting the Dots, Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project", published in 2007 by WSU Press.
When Tyree Guyton was 8 or 9 years old, Sam Mackey (1897-1992), gave him a paintbrush. Mackey worked as a house painter for most of his life, and after he retired, Guyton encouraged his grandfather to begin painting another way. Mackey created whimsical drawings, pastels, and watercolors reminiscent of Mose Tolliver and Thornton Dial. His work has been exhibited at venues including the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland.
This show marks the first commercial gallery exhibition in the South for both Tyree Guyton and his grandfather, Sam Mackey.