DEPARTMENT: These boots, sneakers and stilettos are made for watching. By Brian Russak.
Designers, Star Jones and Carrie Bradshaw aren't the only ones inspired by footwear. From oversized metal structures and life size stone sculptures to an underground, international public art movement and heartwarming memoir, shoes provide ample creative fodder for these five artists. Talk about thinking outside the shoebox.
Originally from: Madison, NJ.
Current residence: Los Angeles.
Day job: Self employed sculptor, artist, photographer, designer and painter.
What: Large format shoe sculptures.
Medium: Primarily stainless steel, aluminum, steel, painted steel and steel with rust or patina coatings. Also wood and found objects.
Why the shoe motif: "I have been making shoe sculptures for about eight years and I get a lot of questions about this. Shoes are part of my series of oversized objects, including Swiss cheese wedges, keys, insects, dogs, and guitars. What these objects have in common is that they are interesting shapes beyond what their function is. These items become even more interesting using exaggerated size, stylization or altered proportions. Shoes also have a huge following in the world of collectables and fashion, and inspire a passion in many people that can only be described as fetishistic. My shoe sculptures have received more press than any other sculptures or paintings that I have done so far. Plus, I personally think they are very attractive - and they sell."
Shoe-related works to date: 14. Show time: Gray's shoe sculptures have been shown at multiple spaces, including Bova Gallery and Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles; Mimi Gallery in Sherman Oaks, Calif.; and the Don O'Melveny Gallery, Hollywood. Future exhibitions are planned for L.A.'s Raid Gallery and Baum Gallery in Conway, Ark. The shoe sculptures also have been featured onstage, on TV segments about Gray and in a recent ALL detergent commercial. Several of Gray's sculptures will hit the big screen in the film "Raise Your Voice," due Oct. 8 and starring Hilary Duff, John Corbett and Rebecca DeMornay, who plays a sculptor. Gray gave Demornay welding lessons and spent time on the set while filming.
Next up: "I am currently swamped with commissions, but when I get some free time I plan on building another giant 6 ft tall or taller shoe sculpture in a different style and color. I have gotten so much attention on my website for the shoe sculptures - 21 million hits a year - that I had to start a second site (highheelshoemuseum.com) just to deal with all the traffic."
Favorite shoes: "I usually wear sneakers for work because they are the most cool and comfortable for the 14 hour plus days that I put in. I stick to all leather styles while welding to cut down on (the danger of) a bead of red hot metal ending up between my toes. My favorite shoes for going out are a modern looking pair of black shoes by Kenneth Cole and a funky pair of Vans sneakers."
Pairs owned: "Around 20, including sneakers, dress shoes, boots, hikers, sandals, boat shoes and wet suit booties."
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