The Earth Clog, the Curly Taylor and the Armadillo House-slipper might get confused for biological organisms (common names, of course)—but it’s actually even better than that. Throw in the Zombie Masher Workshoe and the Tank Slipper, and what you have is a partial taxonomy of Joseph Watson’s illustrated shoe collection, painted on the Downtown Zappos campus.
As one of more than 20 murals in the Zappos Mural Project, which began in February, Watson’s “The Shoe Chart,” facing Fourth Street, is a takeoff on the artist’s humorous mixed-breed dog charts set up in a similar style. Watson says some of the shoes tie into Las Vegas, particularly the Stealth Running Shoe inspired by Nellis aircraft.
Watson was one of several artists selected for the Zappos Mural Project, which is designed to beautify the campus and highlight the work of area artists, says Brian “Paco” Alvarez, Zappos’ culture curator, historian and art enthusiast. Alvarez co-curated the collection with Gina Quaranto, artist and owner of Blackbird Studios. "There are a lot of talented artists in Las Vegas," Alvarez says. "We want to build a bridge and work with the community to create a sense of place.”
In addition to the dozen-plus artists in the community hired by the company, Zappos employees are also creating murals, he says, all of which are expected to be complete by the end of June and to take inspiration from “Zappos core values” or Downtown—thus Watson’s collection of shoe concoctions. Some artists, Alvarez says, are incorporating llamas into their works.
The murals are mostly featured on the interior and exterior of the campus wall on Fourth Street. In addition to Watson, other artists include Quaranto, Ali Fathollahi, Nanda Sharifpour, Derek Douglas, Dray Wilmore, Juan Muniz and Miguel Rodriguez.