Celebrity footwear up for auction
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 10:48 am
Women’s love of shoes and foothills residents’ appreciation for art should be enough to generate success in a unique online auction benefiting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
Up for grabs at the For the Love of Shoes Online Auction are 12 pairs of pumps, wedges, stilettos, sneakers and ballet slippers, but they are not what one would find at any shoe store.
This unique collection of footwear was donated by 12 Canadian celebrities and decorated into works of art by 14 local artists and Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) students two years ago in a combined effort between the ACAD, the Okotoks Art Gallery and Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
“The shoes are completely different from one person to another,” said Town of Okotoks culture and historical services team leader Allan Boss. “They are great pieces of art, all of them, donated by amazing women.”
Celebrities who donated their shoes include Team Canada women’s hockey Olympic gold medalists Hayley Wickenheiser and Cassie Campbell, Olympic speed skating gold medalist Catriona Le May Doan, former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, prima ballerina Karen Kain, actress and former MP Tina Keeper and renowned musicians Liona Boyd and Nikki Yanofsky.
Among those that captivated Boss were Keeper’s moccasins, which sit on an embellished stand made from a drum frame with leather and beaded details created by an ACAD student.
“They are incredible,” he said. “It’s just amazing because there is a real connection. Tina Keeper has a First Nations background.”
Boss was also impressed with Kain’s ballet slippers decorated by Okotoks artist Shirley Paradis who created a copper angel holding the slippers and framed it in stained glass.
“Shirley was a dancer when she was a kid and does metal and glass work,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
The remaining three Canadian celebrities who donated shoes share something in common. Former MP Belinda Stronach; co-host of CBC News: Marketplace Wendy Mesley; and Canada AM host Beverly Thomson are all breast cancer survivors.
Local artists who put their personal touch on the shoes to reflect the change in the lives of those affected by breast cancer were High River artist Ashley Gaboury and Okotoks artists Janifer Calvez, Alice Clarke and Paradis.
Clarke, whose best friend Barb Barton died following a 15-year battle with breast cancer just two weeks before she took on the project, transformed Cassie Campbell’s sneakers into fairy slippers with hand-sculpted flowers, fairies and insects.
“It was in honour of (Barton) and represents her journey through cancer,” said Clarke. “The flowers and the critters were happy and sad events that happened during that time. The fairy is hope for a cure for cancer.”
Having Cassie donate the shoes was fitting as Barton was a huge hockey fan, said Clarke.
“When I got the jogging shoes I thought they were just perfect,” she said. “Those shoes were purple when we started and we sprayed them pink. Pink was her favourite colour.”
Boss said the shoes have already made two appearances at the Okotoks Arts Gallery. The first was in the fall of 2010 and the second last winter.
“We had great response both times we did it,” he said. “We just wanted to pump the energy up a little bit again.”
Although the shoes won’t be on display in the gallery during the auction, photographs of each pair are available online, said Boss.
The original idea was to host a fundraising gala auction but the date selected conflicted with other charity events in the area and it was cancelled, he said.
The shoes were put in storage for a few months until the discussion came up again.
“We looked into doing it as a traveling exhibit and we also looked into the option of having the shoes displayed as public art in Okotoks,” he said. “The options of doing them as public art or as a touring exhibit didn’t fall within the original parameters of the contract which said the shoes must be auctioned off at the end of the exhibit.”
After making some inquiries, Boss got in touch with an online auction company and set up the For the Love of Shoes Online Auction, said Boss.
Each pair will go for a minimum of $250 and all money raised goes to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Prairies and Northwest Territories division, he said. The auction began on Oct. 1 and closes at 9 p.m. on Oct. 21.
“Go online and look at the shoes and embrace the cause and bid madly because this is a fabulous event,” he said. “There is nothing like it.”
Each winning bidder receives an autographed photo of the donor and an art card depicting the story behind the work, said Boss. Embedded in the shoes are the artist’s and donor’s personal stories of how breast cancer affected them.
For descriptions of each pair of shoes or to bid go to www.elevateauctions.com/fortheloveofshoes