Don’t get out of your car.

Don’t meet any “Interesting” artists.

  No wine and cheese opening.

View art from the comfort of your auto as you pass by.

Located at 3 East Cross Street, at Route 22, Croton Falls, NY, 10519

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Shoeshine boxes follow the tradition of folk art by deriving everyday beauty from utility and need. These emerged in the 30′s and 40′s during the depression; when everything collapsed in a fell swoop and the world became much more dark. It’s an interesting parallel to the financial crisis of today; because instead of complaining about their home foreclosing and how banks are to blame, people back then actually got up and did something. No job? Fine, we will go shine shoes; anything to keep a roof over their heads. Although it wasn’t the most reputable job, shiners had huge pride in their work, which showed in their boxes as an expression of the owner. Many proudly display the worker’s name, or feature big pictures and decorations. These artifacts convey the discrete charm of hard times.

For customers, getting a shoeshine allowed for a few minutes of escape and rest from the world, and a chance to hear a good story and feel important. It could even provide advice; J.P. Morgan famously escaped the stock market collapse after his shoe-shiner tried to give him a stock tip (and he realized the market was too saturated).

Although some were done by professional sign-painters, the vast majority where crudely painted, and these boxes represent the optimism and struggle of an era. They often have beautiful designs similar to the famous signs captured by Walker Evans. Some don’t have straight lettering, or even misspellings (one box says “shoe shin” because the artist ran out of room), but this draws you in ever further to the art.

The American Shoe Shine Box