Bobos, Acrylic on Canvas Sneakers, 1987
When I was young, I did not have any money. I learned how to get by on very little money by renting with roommates, walking or biking everywhere even in blizzards, shopping at flea markets or thrift stores, buying groceries in bulk at food co-ops, and hosting potluck dinner and dance parties with friends at our houses instead of going to restaurants or clubs that charged money. In Ottawa, Ontario in the 1970s, there was a store called Big Bud's on Bank Street where you could get a lot of items really cheap. I bought my sneakers at Big Bud's while wealthier friends went to the United States to buy the real thing, Converse Chuck Taylors. I wore my Big Bud's sneakers on a trip I took to New York City in 1978. I was into punk fashion at the time, where one prided oneself on everything in your outfit adding up to less than a dollar in cost. I was walking along the street in Manhattan, and a guy sitting on the curb looked me up and down and said: "Everything's OK except for the sneakers." I told this story to someone else to ask what he meant by that, and they said, "Because you're wearing Bobos," which they explained meant cheap crappy generic brand shoes. I bought the pair shown above, painted them with acrylic paint and titled them "Bobos."