The non-profit artists’ collective and gallery Hatch Art has purchased Dmytro Szylak’s Hamtramck Disneyland, an extensive outdoor installation of handmade folk art along with the two homes located on the property. Szylak, a Ukrainian immigrant and former GM autoworker, created the work beginning in 1992. It was completed in 1999. He died in 2015 at 92, leaving uncertain prospects for the property and its art.
For a time inheritance disputes left the future uncertain, but recently the homes – and the art – were put on the market with the expressed preference of the seller (although not the requirement) that the work remain intact. To the relief of many, Hatch Art has stepped in to purchase and preserve Hamtramck Disneyland.
Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski calls Hamtramck Disneyland “a work of a premiere Hamtamck artist,” a “tourist destination worldwide,” a “neighborhood institution” and an expression of the immigrant and working-class experience in Hamtramck. “There is no alternative but preservation,” she adds.
Scott Collins, president of Hatch Arts’ board of directors, said his group purchased the property after obtaining a private loan. He said they plan to open the houses to tenants this summer, and start restoring and sprucing up the backyard artwork.
One goal is restoring the electric lights around the installation that haven’t worked for years. “We are going to make a lot of extra efforts to preserve the art,” Collins said. “It’s been a landmark in the city for a long time. It’s a great example of Hamtramck history, immigrant history and the independent arts scene.”
To get a tour of this unique site-based installation you can go here