During the height of the crack epidemic, people had all kinds of spooky hypotheses about sneakers dangling over phone lines: They marked drug corners, gang turf, or recent murder scenes. Really, kids have been slinging shoes since the intersection of laces, utilities, and tomfoolery. Some tossed their chewed-up sneakers as soon as they got a new pair of kicks; others stole your shoes and instigated games of forever keep-away. Then came Skewville, the street-art duo from Queens. As kids, the twins had thrown up plenty of shoes in and around their neighborhood. As adults they expanded their worldview, sending wooden sneaker cutouts flying across lines from Berlin to Mexico.
Over the years, the twins have gained fans and foes (they're known for their "forced collaborations" with the likes of Swoon and Shepard Fairey) while their neo-Cubist industrial style has become unshakable and unmistakable. Articulate about economics, consumerism, and the dehumanization of the urban rat race -- they slogged through the adult worlds of advertising and corporate marketing prior to chucking it in for Chucks -- they still come most alive on an urban playground without adult supervision. While their bodega-inspired mini-golf holes are missing, a merry-go-round built from the Apollo bikes of memory sits at the center of their latest show, "Amusement," surrounded by highly animate pedestrian signals and dozens of works constructed out of old bingo boards, Coke signs, mirrors, parking meters, and pieces of abandoned luggage.
"Amusement: New Works from Skewville" opens with a reception, 7-11 p.m. and runs April 13-May 4 at White Walls, 886 Geary St., S.F. Admission is free; call 931-1500 or visit whitewallssf.com.