"Converse at the Y": Phoenix Artists Design Chucks to Benefit the YMCA
Converse generally don't say much about someone's personality -- they get beat up, scuffed, and worn beyond belief because they're everyday, kick-around shoes. But a freshly painted collection of the shoes at the Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA is giving a new attitude to high-top sneakers for a good cause.
A selection of Converse Chuck Taylor shoes are on display for "Converse at the Y", a silent auction to benefit the center's kid members from March 21 to 28.
Twenty five artists including "Crafty Chica" Kathy Murillo and her husband Patrick Murillo of Mantastic Crafts, Latino print maker Joe Ray, metal sculptor Pete Deise, and painters J.J. Horner and Jenny Ignaszewski, received a pair of Chucks with no instructions other than to go to town and have them back in a month.
Both Diese's metal laces (bottom left) and Ray's wing-tipped Converse (bottom right) add flavor to the collection on display.
photos by Christen Bejar
"We didn't tell them they had to adhere to anything specific like 'put in the Y logo here' or something, we just let them go at it," says Jeff Myers, executive director of the Lincoln YMCA in downtown Phoenix. "I was blown away by the diversity of what we got back."
The auction was put together to involve community members and benefit the Strong Kids and Families campaign, which allows kids who are unable to pay for a membership to participate in the YMCA and its activities.
Chairman of the board at the YMCA and resident artist Jenny Ignaszewski, took the reigns for the event and put out every artistic connection she knew to generate participants and donations.
Ignaszewski says the most difficult part of organizing the show wasn't convincing artists to participate or community members to donate -- the hardest part was getting 25 pairs of shoes.
"We actually couldn't get ahold of Converse," says Ignaszewski regarding how the YMCA got all the shoes for the event. "But I was at a show with another artist friend and he said Cowtown [Skateboards] had good connections. Sure enough the owner showed up and we were in business."
Cowtown Skateboards in Tempe donated all of the shoes, which, post-decoration, feature tribal designs, superhero themes, metal works and more.
The bidding for each pair starts at $100 with a $1000 "buy now" price for anyone who is particularly in love with a special pair they see.
The Superman Converse were modified with extra material to look like boots. The fuzzy tops were envisioned by a seven-year-old YMCA member and the "bare feet" Converse were made by J.J. Horner.
photos by Christen Bejar
"Converse at the Y" closes March 28 with a final party counting down the last hours of the auction from 4:30 to 7 p.m. In the meantime, any bids can be made on the shoes in the main lobby of the center during regular business hours.
The Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA is located at 350 N. 1st Ave. in Phoenix.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Phoenix art and theater scene.