"Is there anything better than a chick in a hot car?" Hudson Marquez asks rhetorically. "I think all women should drive in high heels." Marquez, a co-creator of Cadillac Ranch and former member of the 1970s culture-jamming collectives Ant Farm and TVTV (Top Value Television), loves hot rods and women's shoes, and he has no intention of seeking psychotherapy about them. In fact, Marquez's textbook brand of sexual fetishism -- according to popular psychology, the shoe and the foot are the most common fetish objects -- is the subject of his debut Houston exhibition, "High Heels and High Performance" at DiverseWorks.
With their pornographic content and cartoonlike renderings of stiletto pumps and voluptuous cars, the six large acrylic paintings, pen-and-ink drawings and sculptural objects of "High Heels" might get a screech out of sensitive viewers. But Marquez spiritedly allows that his is a case of "arrested social development" and that being turned on by cars and girls is "wholesome teenage fun."
Marquez's fetish paintings seem a long road trip away from his socially conscious endeavors of two decades earlier. With TVTV he made radical guerrilla video exposés, questioning everything from presidential politics (Four More Years and Gerald Ford's America: Chic to Sheik) to religious celebrity (The Lord of the Universe). And the influential Ant Farm defined itself as "an art agency that promotes ideas that have no commercial potential but which we think are important vehicles of cultural introspection."
One has to wonder if, or hope that, there's some sort of fuzzy countercultural agenda hidden in Marquez's dirty pictures of hot rods and hot chicks. Judging by Matthew Barney's Cremaster series, David Cronenberg's adaptation of Crash and the popularity of cyborg-ish, revved-up animé girls, no one has declared a moratorium on sex and cars in contemporary art. But the content has evolved with the times. At this late date, the only way for Marquez to escape critique of his obsession with '50s-era hot rods and pinup girls would be as a woman or a clinical fetishist.
The opening reception for Hudson Marquez's "High Heels and High Performance" is Friday, January 7, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The show continues through January 29 in the subspace gallery of DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. Call (713)223-8346 or go to www.diverseworks.org for more information. Free.