Ecentrik Presents: The Olde City Series

I've had this idea in my head since the beginning of the year and told myself I would start putting it together when winter came to a close. I have to admit..lately i've had a love/hate relationship with my hometown (will that change? Time will tell) but there's something about the vibe of downtown Philly that i've always loved...especially the area known as Old City (sometimes spelled as "Olde" City, which is how I like to spell it because as corny as it may sound I think there's something about the 'E' on the end of the word 'Old' that gives it a historical feel). I'm particularly fond of this area for many reasons...the awesome art galleries (one in particular which i'll get to in a moment), the unique restaurants (one of which i'll also mention), the boutiques in the area with cool items in their windows, and it's close proximity to Penns Landing (for those unfamiliar to Philly it's an area by the waterfront where various summer events and festivals take place as well as just a nice spot to see the ships sail by and see some nice views of the Ben Franklin & Walt Whitman bridges that lead into Southern New Jersey and the Camden Aquarium). Not to mention there's a few art supply shops I frequent in the Olde City & Downtown areas as well as one of my two favorite comic book shops. I've just found it to be an atristically inspiring much so that I decided to create this project which consists of 4 different pairs of custom shoes inspired by different places and things i've seen, visited, and experienced in that part of town. So without further ado, I bring you the Olde City series.

Part 1: "My Favorite Gallery"

During my numerous visits to various art galleries in the city over the past year, I had the pleasure of stumbling onto a gallery know as Salt Art Gallery at 212 Race Street in Philly. I also got the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Michael Veneziale, the owner of the gallery, all around great guy and an amazing artist in his own right. It was his art along with some of the art of the various artists showcased that inspired 2 of the 4 pairs in the series. I decided to name this first pair "My Favorite Gallery", which I instantly conceived in my mind after seeing the following works during one of my visits:

The inspiration I got from these works of art would later give birth to these:

Honestly, of all four of the shoes from the series these are my personal favorites. I wanted them to have that same feel that I experienced when I first saw the previously mentioned works at Salt. I wanted these shoes to feel like something you would see in a gallery setting and would fit right in with the other unique works you'd see in an art gallery. If you're in the Philly area or visiting the city and have a love for art, I highly recommend checking out Salt Art Gallery.


  • 2. "The Heist"

    One day while walking by the Ritz Theater at 214 Walnut Street, I came across the picture that would influence another design:

    The photo is a poster for the movie "Art Of The Steal", a 2009 documentary about efforts to break Albert C. Barnes's will and relocate the Barnes art collection from its home in Lower Merion Township to Philadelphia (after seeing the trailer I felt it was a must-see..unfortunately I still haven't gotten the chance to see the film yet as it was no longer in that theater by the time I finally decided to go check it out). Anyway having known what the movie's about and thinking of how cool I thought the poster looked, I came up with the shoes that I call "The Heist":

    This was actually the first design that I came up with out of the four. If you look closely you'll see that I took various elements from the original photo and scrambled them up randomly. It's almost like the name "The Heist" can have a double meaning: one obviously being a nod to the original film and the other being the promotional poster work being "heisted" for this particular shoe design.

    Here's a trailer for the original film:

    3. "Hidden Moods"

    I came across this picture walking by a shop on Market Street between 2nd and Front streets (not sure if the place was a gallery or a photography shop but the picture was in the window). I thought it was one of the most unique works i've ever seen and I felt I had to somehow integrate it into my project. There was something about the look of the hands on the picture that had me mesmerized..perhaps it was the chalky look of the paint design, the crazy pattern done on the hands, or both. After doing a few sketch ideas here's what I finally came up with:

    Not a direct translation of the original, but the influence of the original can be seen in the colors and the pattern style of the shoes. The reasons I named these "Hidden Moods": First I was ironically feeling a little moody about something the same day that I came up with the final design for the shoes, Secondly, Hidden Moods was the interpretation that I got from the original picture, with the hands covering the face to hide the mood and facial expression of the person. Maybe that's not the idea or meaning the original artist had when they created the photo but that was my personal interpretation.

    4. "Mechanical Salt"

    This shoe was sort of a mash-up of two things: The aforementioned Salt Art Gallery and this place:

    This is a restaurant in Olde City called National Mechanics, which is located at 22 South 3rd Street right off Market(for a long time I thought this place was a library or a historical building!). I actually found out about them after getting a follow on twitter from them so one Friday I decided to check them out. I've only been there once so far but I gotta say the atmosphere is awesome and the food is delicious and very affordable (you've got to try the veggie burger...I guarantee you it's unlike any veggie burger you've had anywhere else!). They also have a regular event called the "Monday Night Club" which according to their site is "A weekly clusterf*ck of local bands, solo musicians, comedians, thespians, photographers, painters (painters? Hey, I want in!), monologists, linguists, performance artists, authors, DJs, jammers, scammers, filmmakers, and films experimenting in different-than-usual norms on an in-the-biz night" (i'm attending my first one this Monday as a friend of mine is hosting an event). They also have Karaoke and something called a "Pub Quiz" (sounds interesting..). Anyway, on my last visit there I grabbed one of these promo cards:

    I combined the collage-style concept of the card with an image or two from a recent exhibit at the aforementioned Salt Art Gallery:

    And here's the result:

    Originally I wanted the design to have more of a "gritty" feel as seen on the business card, but later decided to keep the shoe with more of a colorful and 'cartoony' feel from some of the gallery works while still combining elements from the card such as the collage aspect and even pieces of the Monday Night Club logo and even pieces of the National Mechanics name and logo (even part of the restaurant address is hidden on one of the shoes!). Also if you notice I incorporated the Salt Art Gallery logo (which I got from their business card) and somewhere in the shoes is the shape of the anime girl's eye (shoutout to John Arzayus, who like myself is obviously a big anime fan).

    If and when you're in the area check out National Mechanics restaurant. Also check out John Arzayus work at Otakuden Studios:



  • When I originally came up with this project, the idea was to come up with and do four designs all with a unique story behind them. Well, I actually ended up coming up with 15 designs (!) and just chose 4 from the 15 to put out for the project (not sure what i'm going to do with the other 11 designs yet, if anything). Also, I will be putting all four shoe designs on my website and taking orders for them but only for a limited time..basically, THESE FOUR DESIGNS WILL ONLY BE AVAILABLE THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER. Once the summer run on these is done, that's it..after that they will not be reproduced again in the future so those who are interested in purchasing these may want to make plans to order yours now!

    In closing, I must say that out of all the conceptual stuff that I have done over the years this project was the most fun for me so far as I put lots of time, energy, and focus into it. I hope to receive a positive response not only from the people of Philadelphia, but also those from around the country and the world. In other words, although this project is somewhat of a Philly tribute, you don't have to be from Philly to support it. Whether you're from New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Midwest, wherever...if you love sneakers or just appreciate art, I would love to hear from you. Although I put a great deal into creating this project I feel like I have only just scratched the surface and that this is just a small piece of what I have to offer creatively. I have many more projects planned for the in particular which may be connected to this one, so I would love to hear all feedback on the current project.

    So there's my tribute to you, Olde City....thank you for the inspiration and thank you for being such a great part of town!


    1. De'Nysha E. HobbsJune 6, 2010 at 6:14 PM

      This site is not only cool but informative!!!


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