Preview and Interview: Hudson Marquez “Welcome to Stiletto” – The Mob and Hi-Heels!
Tonight from 8-11pm, at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, is the opening reception for Hudson Marquez “Welcome to Stiletto” along with exhibitions by Norbert Kox & Daniel Martin Diaz. Check out an interview with Hudson below along with a preview of some of the work. In addition, preview all three shows at this link. Hope to see you there!
Hudson Marquez was a founding partner of the Ant Farm Collective, creator of the groundbreaking Cadillac Ranch art installation and a co-founder of the TVTV Video Collective. He has been voted into the Broadcast Hall of Fame and has exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Art and the Houston Contemporary Arts Museum. As awareness and respect for his accomplishments continue to spread, you can expect to see his work in even more of the stalwart institutions regularly championed by Artforum, Art in America and the rest of the contemporary art zeitgeist.
Since his last La Luz de Jesus show, Hudson has stockpiled two years worth of paintings. His pieces are in his studio, hallways, kitchen and in storage…”If you don’t paint, you go crazy” says Hudson, though he did have to stop for a bit because he had no more room for the works!
Welcome to Stiletto is a colorful, sexy collection of pieces and a paean to Hudson’s favorite obsession, women’s stiletto shoes!
Working through an image is something I think almost all artists do, and I think most artists know that if they are serious that they’ll grab a hold of an image and work it to death. A great example is someone like Jim Dine, I always considered him a pop artist, he was most successful in working it, he did the human heart shape and he can draw, his paintings of hearts are really incredible…but you come to an end of it and you go “I can’t do this again I think I’ve worked through it” — some people do the same thing their entire life, some people get really successful at doing something, they work it through but they can’t stop because they are successful at it, that’s when they drink themselves to death at some bar on the corner because they are getting rich painting the same thing over and over again. I think this is the end of the shoes because I’m at a point where I just can’t do another. In fact, I’ve pulled some shoes that I’ve painted for this show.
The last time we spoke, you mentioned that when you were very young, would go to strip clubs in New Orleans and the first thing you saw…
The first thing you’d see were the shoes, I was afraid to look up because you’d see a vagina covered by a g-string. We were afraid of that, we were 13, 14. We were seeing Blaze Star, we were seeing the cream of the crop, the legends, we were seeing the Mob’s best, they were on a circuit.
Was it common that they would let kids that age in?
No never, they thought we were cute. We were from New Orleans and they were aware of our families. We came from prominent families, they may not have liked our families, because they were Italian mobsters. My parents would have died if they knew we were there, it was sort of a fuck you and if we get caught doing this, they are going to know that “the little man”, Carlos Marcello and his friends let you us in and there’s nothing you can do about it. We saw things that our eyes and brains didn’t understand. So there’s a lot going on there. The barkers (greeters) outside the door would say “come on in guys, get the wrinkles out of your pants”!
So all of the paintings in this show are named after bars?
Bars, in the French Quarters, because I couldn’t think of names for the shoes…
There were that many bars?
Yeah there must have been 60 bars…they are now T-shirt shops unfortunately. Bourbon street was wide open, it was a safe place to go when the mob ran it. I never saw a hooker on the street. That didn’t happen, it wasn’t good for tourism. Now there’s a shooting or killing every other night on Bourbon street, but not back then because they didn’t allow that. The mob owned all the clubs and all the antique stores.
They wanted to keep it clean for business…we need the mob to start running stuff again
Yeah, exactly, any mob run tourist area, it’s like Little Italy in New York, it was the safest neighborhood in New York because nobody is going to rob someone in front of The Hunt and Fish Club which was run by the Gambinos…it’s not gonna happen, just like the French Quarters. Now, it’s a nightmare, I won’t go on Bourbon Street, It’s like a glass bottom boat through a sewer, it’s nothing but trash. It went downhill whe the mob got out of it, because one man, in the mid-’60s, put the clubs out of business. We’re way off the subject here but mob politics in New Orleans is a fascinating subject. It’s where Lee Harvey Oswald came from, and a lot of other shady characters. I was a kid growing up there, I was fascinated with all of that. We knew who Lee Harvey Oswald was, we knew who his partners were, we knew about what lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis before it happened. We hung out in Cuban bars. The bars were open 24 hours a day. Anytime you wanted a drink and wanted to go crazy, it was there, 24 hours a day – They only closed barrooms in New Orleans when the bartenders decided they didn’t like anyone in the bar. The women walked down the street and you could hear those heels going clack clack clack clack, they all wore high heels.
Are these shoes in the show from memory, and how much artistic liberty have you taken with what you remember seeing
A lot, I’ve modernized many of the shoes but not to the point where they have platforms.
The heels in these pieces are reverent?
Yes, I can’t stand platforms, they are horrible. The thing with these shoes…you know you can’t get much better than a Louboutin or a Manolo Blahnik or a Roger Vivier, the hi-heels come from 400 years ago, those were the first heels, it’s all fashion and it’s all one-upmanship. The heel is designed… there’s not much variation on it, any variation is basically a novelty. I have an ad from a late ’50s shoe catalog, it says “put your ass on a pedestal” which is what a hi-heel does, (the ad says) “it makes your calves taut, it makes your legs look longer, and it boosts your ass 25%, this is science”, and a hi-heel shoe does that. What I’ve done is taken that design put straps on it, and exaggerate the heels, I’m really into the ankles and legs too, I love painting flesh, I hate painting between the lines, these shoes are real lose, Billy focused me for this, and said “make the shoes the focus” They are all standard variation on the stiletto pump.
And your canvasses are all the same size
All 36″ by 36″
They could be album covers!
As the discussion veered towards album covers and The Rolling Stones, Hudson said “You won’t see a picture of Anita Pallenberg not wearing stilettos.”
All those shoes are designed, it makes a woman’s leg look twice as long, it’s amazing to see what shoes women wear in shopping in the fucking supermarket, sometimes they are strippers and they are getting milk on the way to take to the backstage at the Eager Beaver or wherever they work, to have with their coffee backstage. Vons at Melrose and Vine are likely to have more strippers than say the Krogers in Houston, you expect them to wear some shoes like that, I see women in their ’20s wearing outrageous strappy stilettos while shopping in the vegetable isle, I ask if I can take a picture of their shoes and they say “yeah” probably thinking “some old pervert”.
February 3 – 26, 2017,
Hudson Marquez “Welcome to Stiletto” with Norbert Kox & Daniel Martin Diaz
Friday, February 3rd 8PM – 11pm
La Luz de Jesus Gallery
4633 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027