I must say that when I went to Gene's shoe shop to have things fixed I always walked out thinking about how unique he is and what a talent he has that is seemingly not practiced much these days. There is a long list of things he repaired for me. He fixed a book bag that I used to get my Masters degree, a pair of black leather shoes that my new puppy schnauzer had found appetizing, a camera strap from the seventies that my father had given to me, and so many other random things that I just couldn't bare getting rid of because I knew they just needed a little love.
I knew that time was moving on and I kept thinking about how much I would miss his help when he decided to retire. This year he decided to do just that. He said that being a shoe maker came about because the shoe maker who taught him needed help and paid him a bit more than the job he had at the time. This turn of events proved fortunate for all who benefited from his craft through the years. I had always wanted to photograph him and with the installation I put together this past fall I finally had a good reason to ask.
I wish my schedule had provided me the opportunity to participate in the wonderful arts night in New Kensington this past Friday. I know which series of pictures I would have liked to have shared.
For all of those practicing an art so needed, for Gene who doesn't know me by name but has impacted my world, I thank you.