CEDAR RAPIDS — King Tut, King Louis XIV, Annie Hall, Carrie Bradshaw and Lady Gaga would feel right at home in the exhibition opening today (5/18) and continuing through Sept. 1 at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.
“Kick Up Your Heels: The Fine Art of Shoes” features more than 100 shoes that double as wearable works of art. And some of the strangest ones are surprisingly comfortable, said Kate Kunau, the museum’s associate curator.
She couldn’t resist slipping her foot inside some of the shoes the museum purchased for the exhibition — not the borrowed ones. She didn’t wear them to a ball, but lots of them would be right at home at the May 6 Met Gala in New York, commonly referred to as the Fashion Oscars.
More formally known as The Costume Institute Gala at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, it’s where the stars put their best foot forward. Where better to wear cool shoes — or see them — than at an art museum?
“We really wanted to expand our horizons and kind of push the boundaries of what art is and what’s shown in our art museum, so we’re really excited,” Kunau said of the new exhibition in the second-floor back gallery.
They are displayed according to type: the little black shoe, to go with the little black dress; heeled booties; studded, beaded and spiked killer heels; sculptural heels, the most unusual of which is “shockingly comfortable,” according to Kunau; timeless classics; kitten heels and ballet flats; whimsical colored or patterned uppers; and sky-high “heelless” shoes, where all the weight goes on the toes and ball of the foot. The latter are “structurally challenging, to say the least,” Kunau said.
“It’s really looking at the shoe as a piece of art,” she said. “We’re interested in the cool design elements that shoes have, whether it’s really interesting fabric or texture or unusual heels or wedges.”
All of the major brands permeating pop culture are represented, including Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Loeffler Randall, Dior — “all of the fun ones,” Kunau said.
What: “Kick Up Your Heels: The Fine Art of Shoes”
Where: Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, 410 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
When: May 18 to Sept. 1
Hours: Noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday; noon to 8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Admission: $7 adults; $6 ages 62 and over, college students with ID; $3 ages 6 to 18; free ages 5 and under and Museum of Art members