THEY ARE NOT EXACTLY ruby slippers. They are, in fact, quite the opposite of the sparkly, magical heels worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.
Yet, angled on a pedestal under the strategically-placed lights of the art gallery, these one-of-a-kind silver flip flops shine with individual style, for they are made of shiny duct tape-wrapped board.
Welcome to “Shoe Stories,” the latest art exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault. Here nearly 40 pieces of juried art, like “1,001 Uses for Duct Tape” by Harry Skalski of Northfield, fill the gallery. Artists were invited to submit a shoe-themed piece that fit inside a shoebox.
The result is a show as magical and alluring as the Emerald City. As I circle the gallery, weaving in and out of displays, I feel as if I am on the yellow brick road, encountering not flying monkeys, but pieces of soleful art that engage and invite me to pause and ponder.
Truly, every artist has communicated some message, some idea, on the subject of shoes. Many have shared stories in addition to art.
Krista Kielmeyer Swanson, for example, presents a nostalgic remembrance of shopping at Burkhartzmeyer Shoes, a long-time family shoe store several blocks away and a co-sponsor of “Shoe Stories” along with Johnson Advisors. Writes Swanson: “To this day I can remember the feeling I would have when you handed me my shoes, tied with string. I felt so proud walking out of the store carrying my new shoes.”
As I read the stories, peruse the art, I begin noticing the shoes of other art gallery visitors—strappy leather sandals, shiny Mary Janes, sturdy two-toned practical ties, clogs…
And then I look down at my feet and my silver flip flops which, except for the field of flowers growing under my soles, resemble “1,001 Uses for Duct Tape.”
“SHOE STORIES,” the idea of Faribault artist and PCA Gallery Committee member Arlene Rolf, is showing through September 25 in the Carlander Family Gallery. The art center is open Tuesday through Saturday and is located at 321 Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault.
© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling