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The Weird And Wonderful Story Of Detroit’s Hamtramck Disneyland

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Hamtramck Disneyland Detroit

Fans of folk art and kitsch will love Detroit’s Hamtramck Disneyland!

In 1992, a former General Motors worker named Dmytro Szylak began a unique project: to create a colorful, fantastical world out of found objects. Szylak, who had grown up in Ukraine and lived in Germany before immigrating to the US, was inspired by both the Americana of the real Disneyland and his European roots: Ukranian folk music accompanied American iconography, creating a uniquely personal display. His hobby project, constructed over almost 30 years, became one of Michigan’s most distinct assemblages of folk art.

Among the oddities within Hamtramck Disneyland are two brightly-colored garages adorned with paintings, figures, and tchotchkes; figures of soldiers; cheerfully painted planes; and carousel horses.

Szylak faithfully manned the installation, chatting with guests and maintaining various parts of the site, until his death in 2015. The following year, the Hamtramck-based art collective Hatch Art acquired Hamtramck Disneyland and began difficult task of repairing and maintaining the site in Szylak’s absence. Since 2017, Hatch Art has also hosted artists-in-residence in the two houses on site at Hamtramck Disneyland, along Szylak’s exhibition.

In service of the restoration effort, Hatch Art is currently accepting donations online.

Find it at 12087 Klinger St, Hamtramck, MI 48212.

[Featured image: Hatch Art, Thanin Viriyaki]