These Artsy Shoes Support Children’s Art Education Programs

The art and fashion communities are merging in the launch of SAVEDx, a collection of limited-edition goods with a goal of giving back to art education programs through the sale of products featuring the work of established artists.

The company recently debuted with its first release, a classic slip-on sneaker incorporating the work of Vincent Valdez, whose painting titled, “Till Then” (2016), of a ship at sea, is imposed on the vamps of the shoes. The original work currently resides in a private collection.

Valdez’s work often taps into the universal struggle within various sociopolitical arenas and eras. His other works are part of exhibitions and collections in museums including The Museum of Fine Arts Houston and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

SAVEDx was founded by Valdez and partner Todd Widell, whose background is in marketing, and is the founder of branding/marketing firm Tent.

According to Widell, the two met while working in the same building in Houston, the city where the company is now headquartered. He said they often found themselves engaged in numerous conversations about culture, goods and art work. “We both had a love for shoes and street wear,” recalled Widell. “We thought it would be amazing to turn the shoes into something that can give back and [be] a platform for creativity.”

Valdez was intrigued by the idea of sharing his art with a wide audience through a medium such as footwear. “I felt challenged in how to bring my art work beyond the borders of the gallery and the institutional art world,” he said, “to [make] it more accessible to various other people.”

What makes the shoes unique is the position of the art work as it faces the wearer, so they can enjoy the painting each time they look down at their feet. According to Valdez and Widell, the positioning of the art work is also a way to start a conversation with others who may ask about the image on the sneakers. “A goal when [creating] my art in the studio is to push the work out in the world and use images to pull people in,” said Valdez.

SAVEDx Till Then Sneakers
SAVEDx “Till Then” featured on sneakers.

The single style is currently available online for pre-orders for a total release of 499 pairs. The sneaker retails for $298, with delivery expected in November. In addition to sales through its e-commerce site, the men’s and women’s styles will be for sale at The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

According to the partners, 20 percent of the net profits from the sale of the Valdez shoes will help fund the Smithsonian Undergraduate Internship Program. The program takes students from East Los Angeles College/Vincent Price Art Museum and places them in month-long internship programs at the Smithsonian Latino Center in Washington, D.C. It’s a curriculum that fosters Latino leadership in the arts, sciences, and humanities via the Smithsonian Institution and its resources. The initiative is headed by Pilar Tompkins Rivas, director of VPAM, in tandem with Eduardo Diaz, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Next up for SAVEDx is a collaboration with Jarrod Beck, an installation artist, printmaker and sculptor.

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