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Hamtramck Disneyland - Hamtramck, Michigan

Alley betwen Klinger and Sobieski streets, Hamtramck, MI

Hamtramck Disneyland

Dmytro Szylak started work on this colorful accumulation of whirligigs and found objects in 1990 after retiring from 32 years on the assembly lines of General Motors. He calls his creation "Hamtramck Disneyland" though the title seems meant simply to recall a large and busy carnival instead of any literal references to Disney characters or themes.

Down a long alley of plain garages behind modest houses, the colorful artwork appears high above Szylak's garage. The garage and fence are decorated with thrift store paintings and treasures, found objects and wooden caricatures. Elvis and Mickey Mouse cavort with carousel horses and the Statue of Liberty. Some of the pieces high at the top can spin in the wind, though most are fixed into an intricate tower structure made from two-by-fours attached to the roof of the garage.

The front of the Szylak's house is strangely absent of much decoration other than a tasteful Statue of Liberty and a small painted side gate topped with a rainbow. The house keeps up its formal appearance for its neighbors (who apparently were not pleased when Szylak first started his project). On the more private, democratic alley side, the artwork reaches the full height of its exuberant little carnival.

Szylak was born in Ukraine in 1940 and lived for several years in Germany before immigrating to the United States, and pays homage to each country with the bright colors of each flag. He enjoys greeting visitors and showing off the latest additions to Hamtramck Disneyland.

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Copyright 2016 Matt Bergstrom