In 2009, PDNB Gallery hosted a groundbreaking exhibition featuring handmade shoeshine boxes dating as far back as the 1920’s. Along with this extensive collection of boxes and related objects, a collection of vintage photographs of shoeshine entrepreneurs were included. This summer PDNB Gallery will again feature this exhibition with some newly acquired boxes and photographs.
This exhibition was quite unique for its folk-art content combined with photography. Shine! was well received by the art community and traveled to other venues.
Gallery Director, Burt Finger, started collecting shoeshine boxes and related vintage photographs 20 years ago, because it reminded him of his brief experience as a shoeshine boy working in the streets of New York.
Each box has a unique identity revealing the creativity of its owner.
The box must be small enough to carry and large enough to support a shoe. It also requires some storage to carry all the tools. The exhibition will include some of the original tools, including brushes, polish etc. Each box has a different character. It might have handwriting or carving and bold coloring. Some of the boxes in this collection were converted from WWI wooden ammunition containers.
Many of the photographs in the show were taken in New York City.
Young boys and men lined busy streets looking for their next customer.
Ruth Orkin’s charming suite of 5 photographs illustrates a young aggressive salesman steering his clients to his shoeshine stand.
Shine! gives us a window into an earlier time when men’s shoes required a good polish. Men and women dressed well when they stepped out of the house. They wore suits, hats, ties and shined shoes.
Visitors to this exhibition, young and old, will enjoy these relics of the past. PDNB Gallery is very excited to bring back the exhibition this summer, allowing us to reminisce about a different time, when the American dream was alive, amidst great wars and economic depression, a little shoeshine box could spark the passion to be a successful business owner.
These remarkable boxes and photographs will be for sale in this final venue of Shine!
Photographers included in the show:
Lewis Wickes Hine
April 1 – May 13, 2023
Photographs Do Not Bend LLC (PDNB)
150 Manufacturing St., Ste. 203
Dallas, Tx 75207