In addition to upwards of 20 concurrent art fairs, Miami Art Week also offers an array of tangential pop-up exhibitions and experiences. One, curated by NYC’s Joshua Liner Gallery and held in a built-out Art Deco South Beach structure, centers on sneakers as inspiration. And while there are a series of color-saturated ASICS on display, all designed by Kith founder Ronnie Fieg over the past few years, the art being shown in conjunction isn’t about the sneakers—but the memories behind Fieg’s design inspiration. With works ranging from a Wayne White text-based wonder to a Michael Kagan interstellar oil painting, the exhibition is a worthy pit stop for anyone with fair fatigue.
As for how one curates an exhibition inspired by shoe design, Joshua Liner shared with CH some of the backstory. “There are 13 shoes that Ronnie has designed for ASICS over the years and those are on all display. In working with him, I learned that there’s much more to the concept and vision behind the design, rather than ‘these colors look good together.’ Many of them have personal stories,” he explains. A specific instance, he notes, pertains to the Mint Leaf shoe. “It’s based on memories of him growing up in Israel and visiting his grandmother who would make him mint tea, and smelling the mint growing in her backyard.” Liner used these memories to commission artists to tap those dream moments.
The exhibition features 14 artists, 11 of whom Liner directly represents (the other three are close colleagues). The impetus for the event is a new sneaker, the 25th anniversary GEL-LYTE III, which was revealed opening night. “The homage aspect—it’s the culmination of Ronnie designing these brand new ASICS,” Liner continues. “It’s a Frankenstein version of all 13 previous shoes to make a pair that doesn’t match.” While that might seem like an idea destined to fail, the sneaker impresses—as does the accompanying art piece. “For that, we brought in Wayne White to make a text piece with an original phrase based around Ronnie’s concept. Wayne proposed the idea of ‘They Only Love You For Your Designs’ and we knew that would be it.”
In the chaotic scene of art, design and activations, the Kith Homage Exhibition delivers something distinct: a design history of one of today’s most prolific sneaker visionaries and a cohesive, colorful presentation of contemporary art. And for people purely interested in new sneaker launches, there’s nothing quite like the Frankenstein-ian 25th anniversary GEL-LYTE III.
The Kith Homage Exhibition curated by Joshua Liner Gallery opens to the public at 4PM today, 4 December 2015, and will run through 6 December 2015 at 727 Collins Ave, Miami Beach.
Images by David Graver