Hatch Art has launched a crowd-funding campaign to save a quirky and kinetic piece of folk art in their hometown of Hamtramck, Michigan, a city of a little over 20,000 surrounded by the city of Detroit. The non-profit art organization is raising $50,000 for a comprehensive renovation of the site.
Formerly the home of Dymtro Szylak, an auto-worker turned sculpture artist, was affectionately nicknamed “Hamtramck Disneyland” for its bright colors, lights, and eclectic collection of pop-culture iconography. Szylak worked on the installation above his garage for thirty years, from his retirement from General Motors until his death in 2015. The project is adorned with images of Disney characters and painted in bright colors inspired by its namesake theme park. Syzlak assembled everything by hand, including colorful windmills and other moving sculptures.
Part of the charm of Hamtramck Disneyland is its unlikely location, in a residential neighborhood of a relatively unknown city. Hamtramck was a hotspot for European immigrants like Syzlak, who came to the United States from Ukraine. The sculpture was initially unpopular with Syzlak’s neighbors and the city council, but thousands of tourists have since made the pilgrimage to Hamtramck and were often greeted by the artist himself.
Hatch Art purchased the property in May 2016 to preserve Hamtramck Disneyland as a folk art landmark. A group of volunteers is currently working to make critical structural repairs to the site, and to rewire and replace the mechanical parts and lights that bring the sculpture to life. They also plan to retrofit the interiors of the garages into a public art space and an artist’s studio.
The crowd-funding campaign seeks to raise $50,000 by August 20, which will be matched by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan State Development Authority for a total of $100,000 if the campaign is successful. Hatch Art is also looking for volunteers to help with the restoration.