It’s a beautiful morning in the land of the Chi. Today strangely feels like its the beginning of summer, like a fresh new day. 82 degrees, clear skies and a breeze that is certainly sent from Heaven. The weekend was a beautiful prelude to this type of Monday. Royal Diva spent a fabulous weekend hoping from event to event in the city’s West Loop and Pilsen neighborhoods. On Saturday Whitney Young High School hosted the Nike Chi League basketball tournaments; this tournament features the most prominent H.S basketball players with talents able to propel them to the NBA. This 10 game tournament and additional free weekly basketball clinics offer so much to the city that I will dedicate a future post and include lots of pictures! Across the city in the southwest Pilsen neighborhood I attended the Sole Survivor Custom Contest for shoe design at the 2014 Sole Expo Convention. The Sole Expo was strictly for my gym shoe heads and custom sneaker collectors! (In the Chi we always say Gym Shoes!)
There were shoe aficionados from as far west as L.A and as far east as the D.C/Maryland area known as the DMV. Alot of people came to buy and trade custom shoes but I came to watch the process of custom shoes being created. Six dope street shoe designers, creating their art live in the lab, all different designs, same shoe, everyone competing for a cash prize and a full scholarship by Angelus Direct plus bragging rights as their final shoe design gets auctioned off to raise money for Kicks for Creators, a non-profit group which specializes in helping young entrepreneurs launch businesses in the shoe industry.
The venue was a cool artsy loft space with deep wood paneling and an industrial feel. I blended right in with the wood walls as we dripped a few beads of sweat together. It was hot in there! I really enjoyed the mix of the loft vibe with some splashes of modern art. The bathrooms were cool, they were lowered into the ground and featured some nice black and white abstract work on the outsides. Too bad they weren’t labeled, I turned the corner to the urinal area to some very surprised men…sorry guys. Power 92 was in the building along with Chance the Rapper, Stunt Taylor and Twista. Here’s where I have to pause for the cause. You know Royal Diva only gives you the real when I’m out and about. Everyone at the event was super chill. Every artist from the live designers, the sneaker buyers and traders and the promotions and events staff were all pleasant and excited about their craft. However I witnessed one too many people being pushed out of the way and stepped on by the super obnoxious security had by one artist. I watched this sweet lady selling home made cookies physically pushed because said artist wanted to move 2 steps to the left.
My attention was redirected when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, an artist spray painting a shoe that seemed to be referring back to one of the greatest shows of all time, Breaking Bad! Now THIS is the artistry I came for. I walked around the tables and was amazed by the air brushes, pastel and acrylic paints these artists blended together in what can only be a scientific way. Day 1 of the Sole Expo wrapped. I arrived for Day 2 and the judging of the Sole Survivor Custom Contest. Below are the final 6 shoe designs:
Congratulations @mauriciopaints for the 2014 win! Sneaker heads and gym shoe lovers what do you think about the designs? Who’s your favorite? Until next time. -RD
This post was originally written on Monday July 21, 2014. In the middle of writing this article I received a phone call that my grandmother had left this side of life. My thoughts traveled back to an hour ago where I was entrenched in a breeze that I felt was delivered from the Heavens and the feelings of renewal and beginnings I’d just possessed. Perhaps that was my grandmothers soft whispers letting me know in her always subtle way, that everything is ok. As always thank you for reading and yes grandma, everything is ok 🙂