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September 12 - November 14, 2009


Opening Reception
Saturday, September 12, 2009
From 5 - 8 PM

Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery's first fall exhibition features a unique show combining photographs and objects. Photographs from the 1930's - 1970's offer delightful images of shoe shine entrepreneurs practicing what is usually their first job.

The special part of this exhibition is the addition of vintage shoe shine boxes. Gallery Director, Burt Finger, has collected these works of functional sculpture the last eight years. It all started with a gift of a shoe shine box given as a special piece of folk art by a friend. The collection of photographs with the same subject became an integral part of the compilation as well.

Many stories of successful entrepreneurs started at a young age with the "start-up" shoe shine business. This narrative of a young man's first plunge into commerce offers a nostalgic look into our own youthful dreams of making our own money. However, most of these photographs were taken in the Great Depression, when shine boys worked hard to help support their families.

Most of the photographs in the show were taken in New York City. Young boys and men lined the streets looking for their next customer. Ruth Orkin's charming suite of five photographs illustrates an aggressive young salesman almost grabbing his clients from a busy street in Manhattan. Everyone had shoes that needed to be shined, his motive was to let them know he offered the best shine.

John Albok's photograph, Shine Please!, was made in his tailor shop on Madison Avenue in 1936. The gentleman shoe shine man, dressed in a double breasted sport coat and elegant hat evocative of the time, would stop by every so often to shine Mr. Albok's shoes. He is pictured carrying a traditional wooden shoe shine box with a cast iron foot rest emblazoned with a star. In the background are several of Mr. Albok's framed photographs.

The shoe boxes from this collection are from different parts of the world. Some have their original tools, brushes, polish etc. Each required the same features. The box had to be small enough to carry, but big enough to top with a man-sized shoe rest. They also needed storage big enough to carry all the tools, either in drawers or an empty space below the shoe rest.

Photographers included in the exhibition are:

John Albok

Mario Algaze

Morries Engel

Walker Evans
Alfbert Freeman
Lewis Wickes Hine
Russell Lee
Ruth Orkin
Edwin Rosskam
V.G. Schreck
Aaron Siskind
Roger Smith
John Tarbell

A catalogue will be produced for this exhibition.

Click here to view installation images from the Greater Denton Arts Council

Click to view more images

from this exhibition.