Ridgefield exhibit 'shoe-cases' artists' sneaker creations for charity

Over 30 sneaker sculptures, each decorated by a different area artist, will be on display downtown from mid-June through mid-September as part of the KICKS Public Art Event.

Marissa Alter

May 14, 2024, 11:18 PM

Updated 6 days ago

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An upcoming public art exhibit in Ridgefield is giving new meaning to the idea of "running around town." Over 30 sneaker sculptures, each decorated by a different area artist, will be on display downtown from mid-June through mid-September as part of the KICKS Public Art Event. The goal is to attract visitors to local businesses, shine a light on area artists and raise money for Bridgeport student athletes.
The project is being put on by Artful Visual Arts Initiative, a nonprofit that supports working and aspiring artists.
“We give scholarships so kids can go for higher education in the arts. We also do artist grants,” explained Dee Dee Colabella, who’s on the board of directors and owns a local art gallery.
Colabella first helmed a similar public art exhibit in 2021, with painted sculptures of dogs displayed around town.
“When we decided it's time to do it again, we thought, ‘Ridgefield loves activity and working out and moving forward,’ and we came up with the idea for the sneakers,” Colabella told News 12.
The fiberglass sculptures come in three sizes—1.5 feet, 3.5 feet and 6 feet—with businesses sponsoring a shoe and artist to transform it.
“Since I sell sneakers, I thought this is perfect,” said Megan Searfoss, who owns Ridgefield Running Company, the event’s main sponsor.
After the summer, the sneaker sculptures will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to Artful Visual Arts Initiative and KICKS for Kids, an effort through Ridgefield Running Company to provide sneakers to high school athletes in Bridgeport.
“We have been doing this for a couple years, and we have been able to fit over 500 kids with brand-new shoes—kids that live below the poverty level or right there and have never been fitted for a new shoe,” Searfoss said. “So, this whole project, not only brings community into our town, but it also extends our love of running to an area that can inspire other children to move forward.” News 12 stopped by the Ridgefield Performing Arts Center Tuesday where several artists were hard at work on their creations, including Karyn Devlin, who’s shoe has a personal connection.
“It's called ‘First responders.’ I come from a military family and a family of first responders, so my submission was kind of like a nod to all the people who serve the community,” Devlin explained. “This was a first for me, and I think it's a phenomenal cause.”
Meredith Mulhearn was just putting the finishing touches on her sneaker, which she painted in the style of a Tiffany lamp with flowers and butterflies.
“I feel like bright colors were really important to me because there's a lot of darkness in the world right now, and we all need light, and art is a great way to spread that,” Mulhearn explained. “Vibrancy and nature are a great way to ground yourself in a tumultuous world, so this is inspiration hopefully for that.”
Christine Cherico explained her sneaker’s theme was a secret garden.
“I haven't done anything three-dimensional in a while. I paint on canvas. That's flat, so going 3-D is a whole different fun process,” Cherico said as she added textured flowers to the sculpture. “It's cathartic. I feel like I'm getting back to my roots and doing something good for this community. I think it's going to be an amazing thing once you see the installment and all the different artists and different techniques and styles.”
The public exhibit will include maps provided by the businesses so visitors can find all the locations of the different sculptures.
For more information on KICKS Public Art Event, click here.


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