A couple of years ago I walked over to the Lynn Museum's yard sale. I love yard sales but rarely get to go because I work on Saturdays here at the gallery. I was super excited to be able to take a lunch break, walk out of the back of the building, and hit the Museum's yard sale in it's beautiful courtyard. I was more excited when I found a laundry basket full of old shoe molds for not a lot of money. I asked twice if they were sure they wanted to let it go at such a low price.
Being from The LandofNotLynn, I expected that these old shoe forms were as precious to Lynners as say, a piece of old whaling memorabilia would be to a LandOfNotLynner. Turns out, there isn't a lot of public interest in turning Lynn into a save-the-shoes town like LandOfNotLynn. There also aren't a lot of really loud, vocal, motivated parties interested in saving the old ten-footers like there is to save the cobblestone streets or other pieces or periodic charm of LandOfNotLynn.
Lynn, as it seems, has always been fed by industry. For the large part, in my opinion, Lynn's greatest asset (seconded by it's amazing wealth of natural resources) is its wealth of hard working people. Lynn really wasn't built by a certain industry as much as industry was able to be built because of Lynn's people.
And no one industry has influenced Lynn as much as industry itself, when looking at the city's start to now.
The shoe industry, however, was a biggie. And being an artist, is also the most interesting to me. I love looking at the exhibitions at the museum and seeing the old shoe designs, the Lynn Beach Painter's work, all from that period in time when Lynn was a trendsetter in foot fashion. I am a sucker for early American cottage industry type things, and the ten footers and shoe forms are right up my alley.
I thought I would make something of those shoes some day, something new, and then AAH came along. I passed the shoes out to some artists whom I both admire, have worked with in the past, and trust will redfine those forms and show the city that we are still trendsetters here in Lynn.
The hardworking people of Lynn are no longer defined by one industry, or culture of tradesmanship. While many families have been here for generations, there are influxes of new people, as there always have been, and some of us are dedicated to the creative industries. We aren't all farmers like my ancestors were when they landed in Lynn in the 1600's for a brief spell, but we're working the land here, gathering up steam for new cottage industries to take foot in the downtown.
I hear so often, "When I was a kid, it was so nice down there." Well, come back and make it nice again. Shop local, dare to help make your back yard a wholesome, safe, bustling place so your children can grow up and say with pride, "Look what we built," instead of recounting what was destroyed. That's the true Lynn spirit, isn't it?
(Note: The shoe mold sculptural pieces will be available through silent auction at the upcoming Arts After Hours event on October 21st, which will be held at The Lynn Museum. This post will be followed up in a few days with photos and artists'info.)