Las Vegas Sun

December 14, 2018

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THE STRIP:

Popular shoes step out of the Cosmopolitan for time being

Cosmopolitan Giant Shoes

Courtesy of Cosmopolitan

Artist Roark Gourley (right) stands next to his giant shoe sculptures at a repair shop in California. The sculptures will be back on display at Cosmopolitan after some needed repairs have been made.

Cosmopolitan Giant Shoes

A visitor at Cosmopolitan gets her picture taken while sitting inside one of the giant shoe sculptures by artist Roark Gourley. Launch slideshow »

When artist Roark Gourley fashioned giant shoes that would sit in the Cosmopolitan, he had no idea he was creating one of the biggest photo opportunities on the Las Vegas Strip.

"We thought maybe two or three people a day would want to get their pictures taken with them, " Gourley said. "We didn't know it would be two or three people a minute."

People don't only want to get their pictures taken by the shoes. They want to climb in them and on them. They want to be a part of them.

"We were just flabbergasted at the response," Gourley said.

Being designed as art and not playground equipment, the shoes are showing wear and tear 16 months after the Cosmopolitan opened. A couple of weeks ago, they were shipped out of the casino to be refurbished.

"It's like taking them to a shoe spa," Gourley said.

The shoes went back to the Santa Ana, Calif., studio where they were made to be stripped down, repaired and have the insoles replaced. The shoes will be repainted and finished with a protective clear coat.

"These shoes are kind of painted like Ferraris," Gourley said.

Gourley worked with a group of artists put together by Dean Daniel of Daniel Fine Art that helped create much of the whimsical artwork that has become a hallmark of the Cosmopolitan.

The shoes originally appeared on pedestals with ropes around them.

"It was like having a new car that you didn't want to get scratched," said Lisa Marchese, chief marketing officer for the casino.

But the public wanted to try the shoes on, so the ropes came down.

"It was only a short time before we knew we couldn't rope them off," Gourley said. "This was art people wanted to be involved with."

One piece, a bright pink stiletto titled "Fit to Be Tied," was taken to the main entry, off Las Vegas Boulevard.

"We hadn't even lifted it off the wheels before we had people lining up, waiting to get in it and have their pictures taken," Marchese said.

The rejuvenation of the shoes will be documented through social media. Photos will be posted throughout the process on the Cosmopolitan's Facebook page.

When the shoes return, they will be made stronger and more able to withstand being climbed on and into, Gourley said. Plus, they'll look fabulous for photographs. The biggest wear has been to the insoles, so Gourley said replaceable insoles will be fashioned.

"The reaction of the people to this art has been so overwhelming," Gourley said. "Now, we have to work to meet that level of enthusiasm on our end."

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