It took me a while to reflect on and collect enough shoe images to fully explore the Portland Shoe Art Scene. As I did this collecting and reflecting it occurred to me that Portland actually has a Shoe Art Scene. It seems to be a combination of shoe street art, an endless supply of shoes slung on telephone wires, shoe sculpture and lonely, single shoes strewn on Columbia Blvd., which inspired my own attempts at shoe art and led me to concluded that there is added value in art if you can give the work an amazing title. Then, in all my pondering, I discovered some real shoe art that could actually make the Portland Shoe Art Scene legit.
First I go back, almost to where it all started. In the Spring of 2015. I was substitute teaching at a school located a block away from Division Street. I hunted down a cup of expensive and seemingly exotic coffee from a new coffee shop on my lunch break. On the way back I saw some mind-blowing, public art that was part three-dimensional graffiti and part surrealist, guerilla street art show. I captured the art at it’s peak with a photograph. I had a feeling that with this art being out in the elements it would be in a constant state of decay. Great shoes, great colors and it was right on the telephone pole next to the street in the full view of everyone who had to walk by. The following fall I returned to the school for a day, saw the shoe art pole and witnessed the decay that had set in over the summer. Some of the shoes were missing. I didn’t take a picture, probably because I was in a hurry to get back to work. I realize now that I would have hated to see the shoe art in any other condition than when I first encountered it. It’s unclear whether the street art got no respect or had no way to be preserved. I never saw a “do not touch sign” or a security guard around who would have kept people from getting too close and stealing shoes off the art.
Any art car in the world is going to raise it’s artistic level with the presense of a shoe. This car created by Purple Planet Artist Corporation heads over the top with the addition of the mannequin calf and ankle attached to a bright, shiny, hot pink high heel shoe. It towers above all the other figurines adding an air of grace and dignity to its artistic surroundings. The shoe is so stylish, garish and fashionable that it comes close to off setting the balance of the whole roof top attempts at car art as it continues to attain an amazing flagship triumph of Shoe Art on this art car’s roof. This shoe holds it’s heel high and looks even better parked outside the regal façade of Roosevelt High School. I plan to explore, in greater depth, the local art car phenomenon that this particular art car is part of but in the meantime I’ll appreciate the inclusion of shoe art as a subset to the rest of the art car’s expression.
The sum of it’s parts: Art car & heeled crown.
Untitled: Karl Lind’s Kick Ass Shoe Art Photo.
You might think I’m grasping at straws when I include the ubiquitous pair of shoes slung over the electrical wire as being part of the Portland Shoe Art Scene. We all know it’s a national phenomenon. While this type of creation is everywhere, it is also annoying to someone like me who sees it as a waste of perfectly good shoes. This is coming from someone who keeps shoes to the point of practically sloughing off my feet. Holes, rips, tears, knotted and tattered laces, I wear them until I can’t walk in them anymore. When I see shoes causally thrown around the neighborhood, I always assume they still have a few miles in them. Consulting the Urban Dictionary I discovered that shoes on wires hint at drug activity. “Places where you see shoes that are thrown on a telephone wire indicate drug houses or places where you can purchase drugs,” said the Urban Dictionary. It feels more like an untidy decoration to me. I had to appreciate the way filmmaker Karl Lind portrayed a pair of wire shoes in a snap shot he posted on Facebook. I think the proportion of sky to shoe is just right. His picture captures plenty of gray sky that envelopes the silhouetted shoes. The photo doesn’t highlight the shoes but it fits them nicely into the space they share with that bleak sky. Captured in an artistic way, these shoes more than aspire to become Shoe Art. They have arrived, in all their anonymous glory.
Next Week: Part 2 of our Portland Shoe Art exploration.