Think outside the shoebox

If you give an inch, they'll take a mile, but if you give them a shoe, the possibilities are limitless.


As part of a collaborative effort to raise money for Taos' DreamTree Project, Parse Seco owners Joel Meinholz and Cecilia Cuff are hosting "Let Them Do," which is set to be an art experience like no other.

Artists from around the region have been given a blank, size-16 Vans Authentic skate shoe by Parse Seco and will use the shoe to express their art in whatever way they feel the shoe fits. From contemporary to street art, the artists will use the canvas in various ways to create an unusual experience for the viewer. The shoes will ultimately be auctioned off to support DreamTree.

The shoes will be on view at an opening reception today (July 5) starting at 6 p.m., at Parse Seco, 487 State Road 150 in Arroyo Seco. Those interested can bid on the shoes in a silent auction during the entire time shoes are on view and can pick up their art during a closing reception planned July 29.

"We're celebrating and inviting other people to be inspired and create art," Meinholz said of the collaboration. "It's something to help benefit the community and help create ideas."

Meinholz, a professional skateboarder, said he was thinking of an art exhibit that would embody the spirit of the community as well as hold enough interest for several different demographics. Vans has supported Meinholz in the past and sent shoes for artists to work with. The shoes are a common brand used for skateboarding, and several of the artists involved in the project have experience in the field.

"This is more to see what the artists can do and what they can create," Meinholz said.

Artists have had over a month to create their works and began teasing the images around the community, causing others to want to push the limits of the canvas. Meinholz said the exhibit will be much more than shoes on a pedestal in the corners of a room and is gearing up for a more-than-traditional exhibit for the DreamTree.

"I think it's a very professional design of an event," said DreamTree outreach coordinator Irene Loy. The DreamTree artists "definitely enjoyed the activities at Parse Seco, so they're very excited to have activities that are youth friendly and that they enjoy doing."

Loy supervises several aspects of the DreamTree Project, which operates as a place for young adults who may be transitioning out of foster care or treatment, or need a helping hand. The program helps youth develop skills needed to succeed as adults and guides them along the way in various stages to self-sustainment. DreamTree's transitional living program allows young adults to learn the various financial responsibilities needed for thriving in the adult world, such as money management and rent payment in "starter apartments."

DreamTree has enough space to assist eight youth in its shelter and 18 in the transitional living program. It operates mostly on grants and donations.

Donations like those from the Parse Seco show would greatly benefit the program, according to Loy, and allow them some good financial breathing room as the money will be put toward the general operating fund at the project.

"I had the help of DreamTree co-signing for my first apartment with my little brother, and it would have otherwise been impossible," said "Let Them Do" artist Omar Wilkins. "Art has given me direction and kept me focused on progressing with community involvement and being a great role model for younger adults to see an example of being somewhat successful against the odds."

Wilkins is one of 10 artists whose work will be represented in the show. In addition to the shoes, artists will have the opportunity to showcase some of their own work and allow their viewers to get a better perspective of their artistic styles.

Meinholz hopes the collaboration will inspire other artists around the region to continue with the momentum and involve their communities with art.

Parse Seco is a location for unrepresented artists in the community to share their art with the public. Having had several shows over their two years as a gallery, Cuff and Meinholz hope to continue to reach out to the community and help artists.

For more information on the show, call the venue at (312) 593-3948. For information about DreamTree, call (575) 758-9595 or visit It is located at 128 La Posta Road in Taos.