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Wait, what's that? Oak Park man beautifies 9 Mile with sculptures made from upcycled materials

'There's all these building materials around us.'
Posted at 9:33 AM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 09:33:25-04

(WXYZ) — When most people see a discarded piece of plastic, Dale Teachout sees potential.

"I saw these free materials out there that I could either build from, like, structure-wise, or I could make shapes from that imitated something that was lifelike," said Teachout.

The Oak Park resident has been giving trash he finds on the side of the road a new life through his art for years.

"You can't always get what you want from from curbside, but generally you can," he said.

Teachout said in the past, he just kind of made things for himself, or for a small group of fellow artists — until a new opportunity arrived, a chance to display his work outside, right in his city of Oak Park.

"Now ... I have the public to think about and I'm thinking I want it to be right for the public," he said.

His art was selected for the Nine Mile Redesign project, which is aimed at revitalizing the corridor and marking a new beginning for Oak Park.

"What we loved about Mr. Teachout's art was, for one, he was an Oak Park resident. It is unique, it's distinguished, it's something that you really don't see in the area," said Oak Park City Councilmember Shaun Whitehead.

And it’s a big deal for the city.

"This is the first ever public art in the city's history, so we're super ecstatic about that," said Whitehead.

The Earth Girl installation and basketball player sculpture, Teachout hopes, will draw people in and keep them coming back.

"They have to kind of explore, and then they want to come back and maybe check it out again," said Teachout.

There’s surprises in the art — if you only stop to look. And a message to think about.

"There's all these building materials around us. So if people just go to their garages and tinker, they would come up with ... amazing things," he said.

And in Oak Park, the push continues for more art in public spaces.

"Our goals are, we can't have enough public art, we can't have enough artist involvement in our community. And again, we want to shape the improve the sense of place and quality of life in the built environment here," said Oak Park City Manager Erik Tungate.

Oak Park leaders say they hope to work cooperatively across communities to generate more interest in public art.

And if you’re a local artist who wants to get their work out there, the city manager says his door is always open.

Teachout, who lives close to his work, said he'll continue to tinker with his pieces — bringing beauty to the area in unexpected ways.