I would have ensconced this bathing beauty in that shoe whether anyone else had use for her or not, but I was hoping Guadalupe and Paula Goler would take notice.
It began with a favorite painting by Matisse. A large, pink nude oil on canvas. The blue squares in back remind me of bath tiles. I love this Fauvist fantasy. How dare we borrow inspirations from this image to sell shoes!
Then I remembered Matisse’s cut-outs from his final decade. Really, what better way to sell shoes? When he grew too frail to stand before his easel, Matisse went to bed with a pair of scissors and his craft flourished for another decade.
Matisse’s first cut-out project was an artist’s book entitled “Jazz”. Matisse made his images with the improvisational immediacy of the music he loved. I developed my design in the same spirit. One jazzy, giant leap in my imagination put that bather in a high-heeled shoe, which immediately gave my scissors something to riff on.
The entire improvisation began by applying graphite stick to smooth paper 11”X14″
Next step was to painted on canvas in an acrylic 36”X48″ Not great, but it is linked to Matisse’s bather, in as much as both were executed rapidly on canvas.
Then came the cut-out, first in monochrome “24X32″
As you can see, each stage yielded some interesting work. The monochrome version is an instant classic.
The next version of this poster was very close to final color scheme. The font was achieved by sharply tearing and pasting strips of masking tape in four different colors and laying them down quick and dirty. The crumpled look wasn’t quite right, but I loved the graffiti-like result.
Craft Paper and Art Tape on Art Card “24X32”
In the final analysis, those letters illicit a kitchy resemblance to some faux primitive scripts that recall hand-painted signs of the Old West. Those were later appropriated in the modern era to accent the culture of the native American. The “A”s, for example, look a bit like teepees, and that somehow made the lady in the shoe look like a sexy squaw stereotype, which was never my intention; but it got me round to thinking more carefully about appropriation and also how even subtle differences in fonts can send mixed messages and even confuse the intent of a piece.
Craft Paper and Post-it Notes on Art Card “24X36″
Whereas, I had carefully outlined every section of the lady in the shoe, then surgically removed them, piece-by-piece with a razor, the final version of the text, I snipped out, letter for letter, with scissors, free-handed, experimenting with multi-colored, 3” square Post-it notes.
Fonts are a fascination of mine that go back to my hand-lettering days. The one above was custom made. The emphasis is weight-forward, in counterpoint to her laid-back posture, but conforming still with the low center of gravity.
But what is most identifiable, for me, in this assemblage of brightly hued pulp and post-it notes, is romance encoded in the mating rituals suggested by high-fashion and grooming. The image of the bather in a shoe implies that luxurious comfort and enticing design combine at Goler.
And I think the way the feminine form and the footwear meet in this image, encourages us to think of the act of shoe shopping as more than just buying something to walk around in. Imagine, a high-heel as cozy as a bubble bath. Ponder how purchasing the right shoe can also be just as much of a prelude to love. Can we forgive the image for its old-school pin-up sensibility? Yes, because we cannot deny that pretty pink outline of the female form pays respect to classic works of Matisse.
The color pallet may have a positive resonance with the Meow Wolf crowd, as well, but Meow’s colors are actually, as it turns out, as generic as Post-it notes. Post-its are an especially apropos appropriation for a shoe store, thanks to office couture and the endless search for ideal heels.
Know why shoes became such a big deal to me? Me at ten years old cramming my feet into a certain pair of Buster Brown’s long after they were outgrown. I had eight brothers and sisters. The budget didn’t quite keep pace all the time. In this photo, you can see my hammer toes. So when I say I’m a “shoe freak,” look at poor me, My toes are literally kinky.
It was my intention with this snapshot to infer that they honor feet at Goler, and good shoes are capable of offering so much more than mere protection. They’re symbols of identity, indicators of relative security. Silly as it may sound, evolution is what makes shoes and feet sexy. Combining art and technology for ambulating the body has an universally authentic ring. It’s a primal thing–another explanation for why, “the shoes make the man, or woman, or anything in between.”
This photo also makes light of a rather serious situation, but I did not intend it to trivialize the plight of the street people with this piece. My pose indeed mimics those unfortunate ones asking for hand-outs, with hand scrawled cardboard signs, perched on curb sides, whenever commuter traffic’s at high tide.
Someone told me they caught a cardboard sign holder making so much money the IRS went after him. I think that’s an isolated case. I don’t know what I’d do if I was reduced to begging. I can never just sit around.
The facts are, most people probably only do it out of desperation. Some do it out of habit, of course, others have made a total racket out of it, no doubt. Some beggars are creative about it. There’s a lot of panhandling that blurs the line. One could even argue that street performing, for passing change, is the same vice. More power to the troubadours. If they can get us spontaneously tapping our toes or bobbing to the beat, why not reward them?
Incidentally, no one came up and offered me work in exchange for shoes during this photo session. Good thing too. I can’t take on any more for the time being. I’m in the middle of other projects which you will discover in future posts.
As an artist there are more pressing priorities, in real life, for me, then where my next pair of shoes comes from. So, when the idea came for the shoot, it began with the sign. I grabbed a random piece of cardboard in my studio, just to get it over with. It happened to be dotted with Christmas colored polka-dots and originally purposed for shipping presents through the USPS. Dot’s are fun. Now how can we make the letters pop on top?
Black tape is one of my current favorite line-making methods for sketching out big, bold figures in the most direct fashion and the least amount of time. If you draw from life, try to sketch a nude in life size with black tape.
You can’t always make tape do what you want, but if you let it do what it can, it’s full of surprises. So much depends on how you aim, fold, peel and tear. Making marks with it involves much more of the body and therefore, leaves behind kinesthetic evidence. This imparts dynamic tension to any text. The folds and wrinkles enrich the bold strokes with black-on-black detail. We can see and feel it. Lovingly piloted, the edge of the tape takes place of a pencil or stylus to establish the font’s pleasingly varied, width and shape.
With slogan and sign in hand, then, it was just a matter of deciding where exactly on the curb to sit. I discovered that spot, not so much because of that big colorful window display, which I wrote about in the last post already, but because of the tiny BUY LOCAL sign in the bottom corner of the window just above my head.
The time of day was another decision. Santa Fe has so many moods depending on what the desert sky is doing. We got there just before sunset. Finally, throwing on the sport coat and tie I hoped would eliminate any inclination to read it pitifully. I have money in my pocket, most likely. Anyone can easily deduce that I’m just making a play for your focus, which will deepen, with time, and end up in the open door and the Goler store.
I had some lean times growing up. I thought I might have to go the homeless route more than once. Thankfully, I never have. Not so far. So the photograph is a sort of celebration of that fact. Even if you didn’t know that about me, I hoped you’d get a laugh out of that decked-out dude with his priorities skewed. If I ever do have to ask for charity, I’ll be grateful for times like these.
Art has many lives. My art is constantly reincarnating and redefining its purpose. There are so many ways I’d like to reach out and connect to others with mine that I haven’t even tried yet. It’s about time.
We will seguey from my years in fashion and my fascinations with displays and shoes, to my past decade exploring sculpture, using indigenous plants and how I am now incorporating them into architecture.
After nearly eight years of writing and posting monthly weblogs, featuring in-depth analysis of the greatest works of world cinema, as well as ten years of writing and directing a handful of original films and contributing time and skills to more than a dozen more, I’ve taken a sabbatical.
You may have found us after attending a film festival, or seeing our films on the web. You might have encountered this website upon searching for serious commentary on international films. The series “Films of Our Enemies,” which has generated interest among many film enthusiasts, worldwide, will likely be continued before the year’s end, but please acquaint yourself with other projects of mine in the meantime.
On the other hand, you may have resurfaced here from our Youtube programming that is dedicated to Dr. Charles Greenleaf Bell’s epic series “Symbolic History Through Sight and Sound.” There are over 160 videos there that attempt to span the entire cultural history of humankind, from the prehistoric to the great beyond, all in one collection.
Then again, there are some of you that have been with us since the nineteen-nineties when we first went online. If you knew us then, you may already know about the multi-award-winning work I’ve done as a display artist throughout the years? Recent creations have been tailored toward the customers of Goler Shoes in Santa Fe, but there was an entire decade previous to this when we were traveling a lot and putting our art in front of a quarter to a half a million consumers per year.
The featured image was taken from a bricolage that I composed using a clothes hanger and a high-heel shoe, evoking not only dry bones of antelope, deer and livestock remains, scattered over the southwest desert, but, of course, Georgia O’Keeffe, whose paintings so fetchingly abstract images from those artifacts in her breathtakingly original way. O’Keeffe is so emblematic of Northern New Mexico that there exists an entire museum dedicated to her in Santa Fe. That’s where Goler Shoes is also headquartered, comprende?
The bricolage from which this image was taken debuted as a Goler Shoes display for the Fall of 2016. I simultaneously oversaw the digital capturer, layout and reproduction of the design (with thanks for the expertise of Steve Zeifman at Rush Creek Editions), for Goler’s print advertisement campaign.
Above is the poster for the billboard. Here is the bricolage in the photograph above in a Goler Shoes’ display window for Fall 2016:
Here is the front window from the same campaign:
The theme for the window display above was “like moth’s to the flame.” It consists of my small collection of cheap, colorful asian insect kites, hovering over a pink Himalayan salt lamp, in front of an exceptionally enchanting original, hand-painted silk scarf that my lady dashed off some 20 years back.
The object is to help Goler sell shoes, but for me it was also a way to acknowledge the plight of the many refugees cast about in search of freedom last year. Along with our marketing pitch, I added a proposal for my clients to consider donating a percentage from the big sale to the Red Cross.
Refugees are a formidable set, reminders of the tenacity of the human race. Facing down considerable hazard, they, the dispossessed, leave everything behind.
The conundrum they’re faced with is sacrifice home or die. Maybe all of us will be faced with it some day.
The third and final Autumn 2016 display, began with a slice of real life. The phrase in the bottom of the window, hand-lettered, on satin ribbon, sheds both literary and figurative light.
“You can try to wrap the world in leather or you can put on some boots.”
Years back I heard someone drop that quote and never forgot it. That black deer hide, I bought from a local skinner. That green globe, is a ceramic planter. The light-grey one next to it, is solid granite, and weighs half-a-hundred pounds.
Those sexy shoes are all stamped Donald Pliner, the store’s biggest brand. The map underneath it all was drawn when Santa Fe was still Old Mexico. It bemoans how, despite how many wars are fought, and refugees are displaced, geo-political boundaries forever drift, like dunes in the wind.