Artists Mount Orange Alert in Detroit's Slums

A group of artists in Detroit is trying to call attention to abandoned buildings in the Motor City by painting them bright orange. The artists say they want to start a conversation about urban blight.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Some artists in Detroit are trying to sound an alarm with orange paint. They call themselves Object Orange, and they go around town at night painting a few of the city's 7,000 abandoned and derelict buildings bright emergency orange. They hope to call attention to Detroit's expanding blight and spur officials there to have the abandoned buildings torn down, rather than become drug dens.

So far four of the houses they've painted orange have been demolished. But the mayor's office says those buildings had been previously scheduled for knockdown. James Canning of the Detroit Mayor's Office says the artists may believe they're making artistic statements, but they are trespassing and adding to the blight of the buildings. A member of Object Orange named Jacques told Good magazine, We're trying to start a conversation. Some people do outreach. We paint houses orange.

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