Ladies, if your feet are killing you as you scour the city for presents, you might consider buying some new shoes from a street peddler.
That is, if your idea of comfy shoes are hand-painted, 5-inch spiked heels covered with pictures of nudes.
"I'm an abstract expressionist by trade, not a shoe salesman," says New York artist L.A. Willette. Nonetheless, he chose his current medium when he went shopping with a friend who paid 450$ for a pair of shoes so giddily impractical he realized "she'll never really wear them."
At the moment it dawned on the artist that "my desire to paint on shoes matched only by women's desire to buy them."
Buy them they do - on the street, in SoHo. Willette sets up outdoor shop every Sturday on the corner of West Broadway and Prince St. His shoes sell for 50$-350$ depending on the price of the original shoe (some are almost-new Jourdans!) and the intricacy of the designs, all done in waterproof paint.
Some are daubed with a palette of colors, one pair features eerie eyes staring out, but the majority display designs reclining, almost Matisse-like nudes.
"I wouldn't wear them with my business suit," said passerby Sarah Frith, "but maybe in the evening."
Shopper Phyllis Smith reacted more warmly: "I'd wear them anywhere I wanted to stand out," she said. Added her husband, consumer researcher Joe Smith, "I have only one regret: They don't come in my size."