“Walk This Way”

Amy Julian

It started with my very first pair of Weeboks-my love affair with shoes. So, when I heard that the Museum of Fine Arts was showcasing an exhibit dedicated to my fixation on fabulous footwear, I hopped on the Green Line to satiate my hunger for shoes.

“Walk This Way,” an exhibit at the MFA, combines fine art with fashionable footwear. Since its opening last September, it has given museum patrons a look at shoes from hundreds, even thousands of years ago, and has included some haute-couture designers of today. Shoes are strewn about the galleries of the museum amongst some of the greatest paintings and sculptures. Don’t be surprised if you find a Prada alongside Picasso, or a Manolo Blahnik with Monet.

A unique approach to exhibition, “Walk This Way” ditches the conventional set-up of a featured exhibit, and instead scatters its subjects throughout the entire museum. Museum-goers are given a handy map of where to find all the shoes, and the treasure hunt through medieval art, contemporary pieces and ancient Grecian sculpture is a treat.

The blending of art and fashion is one of the best parts; there are many pieces of artwork I wouldn’t have stopped to admire without being drawn to its coinciding shoes. The variety of shoes on display gives depth to the world of fashion and shows the designs of our ancient ancestors from around the world. Japanese slanted sandals correspond with Monet’s “La Japonaise,” and cast iron stilt shoes used in the 1800s garnish a painting of a man who is making the exact shoes on display. To see shoes’ place in history and other cultures is outstanding and takes footwear beyond a level of fashionable accessory.

While men may seem hesitant to indulge in “Walk This Way,” there is plenty of fun to be had for men, including one of Dice-K’s cleats and Kevin Garnett’s basketball shoes, featured with a display of athletic equipment from ancient Greece.

My favorite pairing, without spoiling the exhibit too much, included a fabulous and over the top pair of platform wedges by the lavish fashion house Miu Miu, and gold-plated paneling that resembled the intricate detailing on the hot pink platforms.

While I was expecting a bigger display (a more grandiose presentation of shoes), it was interesting and fun to see the entire museum. The clever pairing of shoes and art captivated many of the attendees.

“I love it; it’s brilliant,” remarked Museum member Trish Bradley.

“It’s shoes. What more could you ask for?” added Linda Ysukami.

Still, the exhibit did draw some criticism. “I was expecting more; the website and press made it seem bigger than it was, but it’s nice, still” one museum visitor pointed out.

Anyone with a passion for shoes and/or an interest in art could appreciate the clever display of one of the world’s most beloved accessory. “Walk This Way” runs through March 23, 2008 at the MFA. Admission is free with a valid UMB student ID. Visit www.mfa.org for more information.

WHEN: Through March 23, 2008.

WHERE: Museum of Fine Arts, Avenue of the Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston.

MBTA: Take the Green Line “E” train to the “Museum of Fine Arts” stop, or the Orange Line train to the “Ruggles” stop.

PRICE: Exhibit included in price of admission; $17 Adults, FREE with UMB student ID.