Shoe artwork walks into Nelms House

Published 9:43 pm Friday, February 8, 2019

A variety of artistically decorated shoes is taking over the Nelms House in Smithfield through April.

The “Walk This Way” exhibit features more than a dozen pairs of shoes decorated by local businesses and artists, said Anne Garland of the Nelms House.

The theme for the exhibit was inspired by the “Adorn” exhibit of wearable art at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center. The “Walk This Way” exhibit will benefit the healing arts therapy program at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center.

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The shoe artwork spread throughout the Nelms House encompasses a variety of themes, from Mardi Gras to Mother Hubbard to steampunk.

“I’m just amazed at the artistic originality the artists have come up with,” Garland said.

Some of the shoes are more like sculptures and some are more like containers. Some pairs are still wearable, for someone who’s the right size.

“I wish I could wear those,” Garland said, pointing at a black-and-yellow pair decorated with bee imagery. “But they’re too small.”

Garland said several other art galleries in town created a pair, including The Main Event. Local artists also did several pairs on their own.

Visitors will not only be able to view the shoe exhibit but also will be able to see the historic Nelms House itself, which opened last year.

The Nelms House was built by Charles F. Nelms, a local contractor, for his family around 1899, according to the home’s website.

“He added all kinds of interesting things that a lot of houses don’t have,” Garland said. Among those features are a round chimney, church turret, sunburst pediment and five kinds of siding, Garland noted.

The Victorian home now functions as events venue, tea room, art gallery and more.

The Nelms House is open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. It is located at 309 Main St. Call 357-2814 for more information.