These boots are beauts


A decade ago, the artist Ken Auster became enamored of some artistic cowboy boot sculptures. He didn’t buy them, but they stayed on his mind — ones that got away.

Then about a year ago, Auster was stunned to see what he thought were the same boot sculptures. “As I approached, I realized these were the real thing — real boots, as beautiful as the ones I’d seen before, but you could actually wear them,” he says.

The boots are handcrafted of intricately embroidered velvet in Uzbekistan, done in tribal designs indigenous to the region. No two pair are alike: some are bright florals on black, some muted and spare, some a classy tone on tone. Heels and toes vary, too — including cowboy boots and Cuban styles with heels, plus a flat version with gypsy heel and round toe.

Smitten all over again, Auster and his wife Paulette bought more than the boots. They became the collection’s first major distributor in the United States. In “The Art of the Boot,” they will offer them in San Francisco for the first time on July 3 and 4 at the Fillmore Jazz Festival.