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Air Force One #1 (close-up)

Air Force One #1 (close-up)

Los Angeles, CA - USA

12" x 24"
Acrylic on Masonite
Part of the artist's collection

I have begun a new series of paintings portraying Nike's Air Force One sneaker. Until about a year ago, I knew very little about sneaker culture, but I found myself working with a major league sneaker head and was fascinated by the extent of the phenomenan. For the uninitiated, here is the deal. Sneaker heads collect basketball shoes, specifically the Nike Air Force One. Although they may wear some of the shoes they buy - the all white model being a typically classic choice - many of the shoes may never be worn. Nike became aware of the Air Force One sub-culture some time ago, and has gone out of their way to create dozens of limited edition sneaker designs that are quickly snatched up by collectors within days of their release. Boutique sneaker shops have popped up in international urban centers like New York, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. The internet trade in Air Force Ones is a bustling, if not fanatical, exercise in free-market economics.

While I personally have worn every pair of shoes I have ever owned, I do appreciate the collector mentality of the sneaker head. I chose the Air Force One as the second installment in my visual artworks based on sub-culture. Most of the Music Machines series were rooted in hip-hop, and because of my buddy Juan's education, this seemed like a very logical step.

The sneaker's connection to hip-hop is nothing new. Run DMC's "My Adidas" paid homage to the shell-toe Adidas casual sneaker. Though the song advocated the wearing of the shoes without laces, hip-hop heads everywhere started rocking the signature shoe with fat laces in " and white or white with black stripes." Our latest shoe anthem is Nelly's "Air Force Ones". Even though Nelly talks about wanting two purrr, you can be assured that sneaker heads will have a lot more than that. Those classic whites become a donation once there is any type wear visible on the shoe. No colla-poppin' player would be seen dead in a set of whites that were anything less than perfect.

My favorite designs are the Brooklyn Edition, which is solid electric blue, and the Argon Edition, which is a combination of blue shades. The Brazil Carnival Edition in orange is hot too, but in a size 12 would easily cause me to be mistaken for a clown, and I don't really need any help there.

The first several pieces in this series are studies of different perspectives and techniques. The color schemes do not correspond to any actual Nike design, to my knowledge. I get the feeling that people are going to want to see actual reproductions of specific models, so I will likely be going there in the near future. I welcome your input on this.

I hope that you enjoy this series. If you do, tell your local sneaker head...