What are described as "the biggest cowboy boots in the world," 30 feet from toe to heel and 40 feet tall, will start to raise next week at -- of all places -- the northwest corner of 12th and G streets NW.
The outsized footwear, the creation of Texas artist Bob Wade, will be the first of four exhibits of unusual sculpture that will occupy the site during the coming year under the auspices of the Washington Project for the Arts.
Wade's boots will be erected by a crew of about six -- including two employed under the mayor's summer jobs program -- who will bend, weld, bolt, wrap and paint the various components.
Apart from a $3,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the project will be privately financed, largely through donations of materials and services by businesses.
One donor, for example, provided Wade with a hotel room for his Washington stay.
The site is a narrow sliver of land atop a Metro subway station and next door to a women's wear shop, where there currently is little to distract a passer-by. The land is owned by the city. Currently it has been dubbed the Washington Art Site.
If one is going to choose a subject for popular sculpture, why boots? "Everybody's got this thing now about cowboy boots, it's become fashionable," Wade said. He noted that they are currently featured in five of Garfinckel's windows.
The boots will be constructed on a framework of pipe-like electrical conduits, bent into appropriate shapes and welded together and bolted to a foundation. Metal screening will be wrapped around the framework, and urethane foam will be sprayed to form the skin of the boots. These will be painted with elaborate designs.
Wade's fellow Texan, Rep. Charles Wilson [D], supported the mayor's jobs program on the condition, he said recently, that it provide meaningful jobs for youth.
Asked whether his bootmaking meets this condition, Wade insisted it does. All the task require skills that are based on other jobs he said. CAPTION: Picture, Artist Bob Wade displays a scale model of the giant cowboy boots to build at 12th and G streets NW. By Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post