Famous Texans' Hats and Shoes at ITC Exhibit

Mar 21, 2011

If you're looking for a quiet activity to wrap up Spring Break, think about hoofing it downtown to the Institute of Texan Cultures for the "Head to Foot" exhibit.  You'll find an array of shoes, boots, hats and spurs of famous — and inspiring — Texans, which tell their unique Lone Star State stories.

There are the mud-caked boots optimistically worn by Kinky Friedman during his run for governor. 

"Kinky's black leather boots, custom-made, on the front say, 'Governor Friedman,'" said Dr. Sarah Gould, guest curator for the Institute of Texan Cultures. 

There is also an evening ensemble that exemplifies a Texas author's fearless creativity.  

"Some fantastic, vintage, platform heels and a plastic clutch that Sandra Cisneros wore with an outfit, with a lace dress. And we have her shawl that she wore with the outfit," Gould said.  

The shoes, boots, hats and mementos of Texans who did great things for the state and for mankind. 

"This exhibit is about inspiring Texans, and it's titled 'Texans Head to Foot.' The idea here is that through a person's personal relics — their shoes and their hats — you can get a three-dimensional character sketch of the person. Through the hats, we're hoping to show the person's intellect, the person's drive. Through the shoes we're showing the person's actions," Gould said.  

Take, for example, the shoes worn by television news reporters. 

"So Dan Rather's are hiking boots, and John Quinones' are more like a hiking shoe," Gould explained. "But obviously, what you would get from this story, I think, just from looking at this, is that when you're a reporter, you'd better be ready for anything." 

The exhibit is separated into eight areas: education, business, science and medicine, the arts, military, service and politics, and sports. Exhibit designer Claudia Padilla constructed the set so that visitors can get a three-dimensional look into their favorite Texan's life, work and personality and come away inspired by the experience. 

"I think they should be inspired basically to be a productive person, because we're depicting here people that somehow imprinted the lives of Texans. So you're hoping you want to target that rather than just living a regular life, without objectives. As long as people have objectives, a place to go to, I think they will move forward," Padilla said. 

Gould agrees. She says the idea is to share the secrets of inspiring Texans — like a window that shows who they really are — and through someone's personal relics, a three-dimensional character sketch emerges that can inspire, teach, or just show people it's okay to be themselves. 

"The two Heloises, mother and daughter, we have their boots. And they both have some very interesting two-toned boots. Heloise, the mother, has turquoise and orange boots that were made for her by Larry Mahan. And Heloise, the daughter, has two-toned magenta and purple cowboy boots," Gould said.  

The "Texans Head to Foot" exhibit runs through May 1.