Sunday, July 1, 2018

Art Interlude

The United States government has decided that most state IDs and licenses are no longer good enough for air travel, so I had to plonk down the money for a passport. Kirby already had one from his semester teaching in Norway. This gave us a great idea: if we've got it and we aren't yet on our super-restrictive post-move budget, let's use it. We visited Toronto this summer, making Canada the first foreign country I've ever visited. And while we saw a host of amazing historical sights and art venues, one of my personal favorites was the Bata Shoe Museum.

Like several other specialty museums in the city, the Bata Shoe Museum has a pay-what-you-can night on Thursday evenings; we gave them $5 Canadian for each of us. It was absolutely worth it! The museum is far larger than I thought it would be and, if you're interested in historical fashion, it's a goldmine. Foot binding has interested me for years, and when you see how tiny the shoes are in real life, you'll understand why: that second picture is Kirby's hand over a pair of "lotus shoes" for scale.

My one disappointment about the museum is that some specimens, like theses incredibly rare Chimu shoes, were hard to photograph with the glass cases and the many lights reflecting off of them. That's a common issue in museums, though, and I'd rather they preserve the specimens than leave them in the open air for people to grope. (That happened in the Royal Ontario Museum, by the way: some middle-aged couple ran their hands all over an ancient piece of statuary from India and I just about lost my shit.)

It's also worth mentioning that you could spot a lot of modern trends in these very old shoes. Just look at the pointed toes and embellishments on these Italian heels from the 1660s: don't we seen similar shoes in Barney's today?

Speaking of Barney's...

Somehow, we managed to miss a lot of fascinating exhibits that were in Toronto before or after our visit, including my favorite living artist's recent piece "Infinity Mirrors." (SOB) and Toronto Pride (DOUBLE SOB). But it just so happened that the Bata Shoe Museum was showcasing a collection of Manolo Blahnik shoes. Hence, I spent an hour surrounded by dozens and dozens of Blahniks, the type of shoe I once promised I'd buy myself when I still wore high heels. While I've always admired Blahnik's work, I didn't realize just how much range he had until I walked through this exhibit.

Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes will be open until January 6, 2019. If you want a rare opportunity to see some beautiful and historic footwear (and I'm not just talking about the Blahniks here), the Bata Shoe Museum is well worth a Thursday evening trip.


  1. Bata is one of the suggestions I always give to people who are coming here! So glad you went. If it helps any, it sounds like it was basically impossible to get Infinity Mirrors tickets, so you may not have had luck getting in anyway. My parents are AGO members and still couldn't get tickets!

    1. Ah, that's true! People said the lines and the demand were out of this world, so maybe it's a good thing after all.