What is it about the shoe that captures the imagination so much? Dorothy’s ruby red slippers carried her down the yellow brick road. Cinderella’s glass slipper reunited her with her Prince Charming. Carrie Bradshaw’s red-soled stilettos opened up a life of urban glamor and sophistication.
Shoes also have an important meaning in everyday life. They can denote socio-cultural identity or class status. They can function as a means of creative expression or to identify with others. Whether designed for embellishment or purely for function, elegant or simple, wildly imaginative or beautifully simple, shoes are always revealing. No wonder they have inspired artists and laypeople alike.
From February 3 to March 16, 2022, Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, presents ‘Just Shoes: Where Art, Craft and Fantasy Meet’, an exhibition featuring over 70 shoes by 20 artists. Curators Debra Fram and Barbara Richards selected the works on display from a larger collection of novelty footwear commissioned by Jane Gershon Weitzman, founding vice president of Stuart Weitzman Retail. Wife of the famous shoe designer, Jane had a vision to create a fictional shoe gallery for the windows of their Madison Avenue stores. She traveled the world to find artists who could help her achieve her dream. In total, over a period of 12 years, more than 1,000 shoes were created.
Constructed from a surprising array of materials and shapes, combining traditional craftsmanship with the unexpected, these shoes exist as artistic one-offs, cobbled together from cut and glued paper, plexiglass, bronze, ceramic , wire, found objects, fabric, steel, rhinestones and more. On display are the fanciful and the architectural, the lavishly decorated and the extravagant camp. Some designs are abstract and others figurative, referring to popular culture, the animal kingdom and nature. Pure invention takes these shoes away from the utilitarian realm they are usually associated with. Here, form owes nothing to function.
Notable artists whose innovative creations are on display include: Ann Johnson, two of whose sculptures have been exhibited in the East Wing of the White House; Kevin Radu, who created a 911 memorial for Chrysler’s Detroit headquarters; Sharon von Senden, who designed and constructed over 20,000 square feet of mosaics with nearly 5 million pieces of glass for the City Museum of St. Louis; Danielle Pollitz, who was commissioned to sculpt the Angel of Hope Award given to President Bill Clinton; and Joan Klimo, who designed shoes for Christian Dior.
Completely unportable and happily defying practical use and anatomy, these fantastical creations exist solely for the pleasure of the eye and the imagination. They are sure to delight viewers of all ages, fashionistas and art lovers.
A vernissage will take place on Thursday, February 3 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Flinn Gallery, sponsored by the Friends of the Greenwich Library, is located on the second floor of the library’s main branch at 101 West Putnam Ave. The gallery is open every day from Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, please call the Gallery: 203-622-7947 or visit www.flinngallery.com