Shoes NOT Made for Walking

Published 8:20 am Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

I’ve never accompanied my wife on a shoe-buying expedition–or even gazed into a show windows displaying women’s shoes. (Unless you count the time a sports page was blown flat against the glass.)

She, on the other hand, could have earned multiple doctoral degrees if she’d given time equal to sessions of looking at, trying on, purchasing, returning, storing, discarding–as well as looking for–shoes.

In short, women are genuinely interested in shoes. Men typically give them little thought– unless they are on fire, caught in an escalator, or lost during airport security procedures.

This said, you may conclude–albeit in error–that my observations were made during sedation, and/or perhaps while hog-tied, dangling in the twilight zone. You are forewarned.

Looking at women’s shoes was a HIGHLIGHT of our recent 620-mile road trip to Albuquerque. On the cusp of beginning our 50th year of marriage, we were “equally yoked” in joint gawking.

But our two-hour visit to the “Killer Heels” exhibit in the Albuquerque Museum ended too soon.

On loan from the Brooklyn Museum, it is the talk of the town–not only in art circles, but also among folks who rarely visit museums. It runs until August 9, so thousands more–many with limited museum visitation–will agree that the history of women’s high heeled shoes is intriguing. It may come as suddenly as a blow upside the head, but this exhibit of high heels–from across the centuries and around the world–stuns.

“Killer” isn’t wasted on these art objects. They could have added words like “stiletto” and “dagger,” too. Handled deftly, some of them are long enough to pierce the thickest torso–as well as thrown or catapulted, even featured in home security systems.

They also could anchor rails on mountainous stretches of train tracks.

Some shoes were formerly owned by renowned figures, including Marilyn Monroe.

I had heard years ago that Dolly Parton gave a museum her “tallest ever” high heels. Perhaps they are travelling in a different exhibit.

It was said she wore them briefly before tumbling forward. Luckily, serious injury was averted.

How? She landed on her eyelashes.

A digression is obvious.

Doubters who feel my exaggeration has been stretched to the breaking point are urged to seek computer substantiation. Okay, go ahead and seek proof. Google away, or go straight to Interest will be piqued, and you can get much gawking out of the way before actually visiting the exhibit.

Thoughtfully, they’ve strung something like a clothes line across a wall. Visitors are invited to leave notes about their impressions, attaching them with miniature clothes pins. Dozens are “hung” each day, mostly by folks who want to celebrate the work of almost 200 world-class shoe designers and artists. Included are 11 additional works–five by Native American artists, and the remainder by Hispanic or Mexican artists/designers, as well as local cowboy boot makers.

It is difficult to imagine any material or metal not included in some of the shoes. Feathers, sequins, paint by the glob, jewels and color—oh, the color—dominate. Metals, glass, wood—and ever so much more—are included, too. Some defy description, and are held together by heaven only knows what. The thought of women standing tall in them challenges credulity, inviting “run-amuck” mental visions of contortions.

And while in Albuquerque, visit turquoise jewelry shops. Stop in at restaurants with menu items beginning with “green chili.” Soak in “lobby talk” in hotels awash in artistic creations. Consider conversations on tram cars lifting folks to the cool air atop Sandia Crest. Everywhere, you’ll likely hear the question: “Have you seen the shoes?” Take the ballerina shoes, for example, with grades far more steep than ski slopes. Challenged by long spikes shooting straight downward from the heels, wearers would be required to “tippy-toe” on stage or not, like it or not. The woman who first clopped around in the high heels made of horse hooves likely created quite a stir, too.

The “Killer Heels” exhibit is a “perfect fit,” setting visitors back on their heels. This is one of only three stops in America outside of Brooklyn this year. See it!


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments to: Web site: Columns archived at, newbury blog.