Thursday, July 5, 2018
On February 20, 2017, a 51-year-old man named Thomas Leeper set off to complete a public art-centric passion project: covering every linear mile of Detroit on bike, while also photographing and geo-tagging every piece of public art or graffiti he encountered along the way. He named the project Every Linear Mile and created a website and Instagram for it. Almost a year and a half later, Leeper is about at the halfway point, having biked through 2,200 of the 4,000 linear miles of the Detroit streets.
Leeper is not an artist nor a photographer, but he writes on his website that he had “always appreciated art and the way artists often give of themselves with little in return.” After a few life changes, including a divorce and turning 50, he decided to merge his appreciation for public art with his growing interest in cycling. He lives and works in Boston, so on the weekends, Leeper drives to Detroit, parks his car for the day, and hops on his bike to ride somewhere between 20-40 miles, with frequent stops to photograph the art he sees.
Leeper has several goals for the project. The project website explains that he hopes that locals “will be reminded of how lucky we are and what beauty is around us, even when some of it might look like decay on the surface,” that visitors “will be slightly more educated on how much more Detroit has going for it, including a thriving art scene,” and that the project will give the artists themselves “some individual exposure, but more so helps them gain respect for what impact they have on the city as a collective.”