September 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Donna's Detroit

Breathing fire over threat to DIA's collection

Dragon goes to the DIA
Dragon goes to the DIA: Fire breathing dragon sets ablaze a sign supporting DIA. "#Save the Art," it said. The dragon is a huge art car created by Ryan Doyle and Teddy Lo, 40 ft. long – 60 when its tail is attached – and 23 ft. high. It goes to Artprize next week.

Detroit — In the dead of night Thursday, a 40-foot dragon snuck up to the north lawn of the Detroit Institute of Arts and left a blazing message to the city: "Save the Art."

The 20-foot-tall dragon is made of found objects and recycled steel and tires. Mounted on a dump truck chasis, the giant art car is the creation of artist Ryan C. Doyle of Detroit and Hong Kong based LED artist Teddy Lo. It is mobile and immense. And it can shoot a 20-foot burst of flame from its nostrils.

Detroit sculptor Doyle and about a dozen friends and assistants drove the dragon, Gon KiRin, or Light Dragon in Mandarin (Lo's native tongue), down Woodward Avenue about 9 p.m. Thursday to the DIA, where he and his aides stuck a sign made of steel letters wrapped in fabric into the lawn and doused it in kerosene.

Moments later, they drove Gon KiRin up to the curb and let loose its fiery breath, igniting the sign that read: "#Save the Art."

Doyle called it an art performance in support of the DIA's fight to retain control of its vast art collection, which is facing scrutiny as the city counts its assets following its bankruptcy filing.

The endeavor played out to the beat of music from the DJ booth on the dragon's back. Supporters rode on sofas affixed to the sides and back of the art car.

The stealth artists quickly drove the dragon away, leaving aides to snuff the flames with a fire extinguisher. Passersby stopped to snap pictures, and at least one observer expressed outrage at the action.

It wasn't long before sirens wailed and a fire truck arrived to shower the smoldering sign with water.

Gon KiRin has been exhibited at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada and at Maker Faire in Dearborn. The found art sculpture will be at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids from Sept. 18 to Oct. 6. It will not be driving there, however. A Kickstarter campaign is in its final few days to raise money to get it there, disassembled and carried on several trucks.

The 20-foot tall dragon is made of found objects and recycled steel and tires. Mounted on a dump truck chasis, the creation of artists Ryan C. Doyle and Teddy Lo is mobile and immense. / Donna Terek / The Detroit News
A blast of fiery breath from the 20-foot high dragon sets the sign '#Save ... (Donna Terek / The Detroit News)
Loaded with about a dozen riders, Gon KiRin the 40-foot long, fire ... (Donna Terek / The Detroit News)
The sign '#Save the Art' blazed on the north lawn of the DIA for about 10 ... (Donna Terek / The Detroit News)