The Art of Sex

Pop-ups like this one plague the protagonist in Stephen Andrews's Quicktime Interruptus.
Courtesy of DiverseWorks

Last summer Ed Koch was seen all over Manhattan with a cock in his mouth. On the street and in the subways, there he was, the former Democratic mayor, looking so pleased, so happy with the large penis in his face. This came as no surprise to many New Yorkers, who felt betrayed by his decision to appear in a series of ads with the message "The Republicans are coming. Make nice." A lot of the city's denizens didn't want the GOP to hold its convention there, and they sure as hell didn't want to make nice. So drawings of penises began appearing on top of Koch's ads.

Most of the time, nothing quite says "Eff you" like drawing an inappropriate penis or pair of breasts on top of a picture. But defacement doesn't always mean disrespect. In an artist's hands, it can become something altogether different.

At "Contemporary Erotic Drawing," the latest offering from DiverseWorks, Anita Steckel is displaying her With Ingres series, for which she's drawn on prints of works by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, a 19th-century French artist. What were once classic nudes are now orgies. In Steckel's With Ingres No. 3, a woman -- drawn by Ingres -- is being grabbed from behind by one person and eaten out by another, who in turn is being eaten out by someone else (all, of course, added by Steckel). And No. 2 features quite a few more cocks than the original.


"Contemporary Erotic Drawing"

DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 713-223-8346

Through March 5

All of this nastiness isn't necessarily meant to debase the originals, although we're talking about an artist who achieved notoriety in the '80s for painting a picture of Ronald Reagan grasping Adolf Hitler's penis. Rather, the With Ingres series can be seen as an attempt to liberate its subjects from the stuffiness of the 19th century.

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At "Contemporary Erotic Drawing," T&A abound and jiggle around. Straight, gay, group, solo -- pick your poison, and you can find an artist with it on tap. And that's just the conservative stuff.

A lot of the works are meant to shock, and if a few of them don't make you a little uncomfortable, then you might want to consider counseling. Kim McCarty offers up two watercolors of shirtless figures who seem more than a little young to be viewed from the eye of Eros. Leon Golub shows us a man with a boner holding up a scared goat, which takes the origin of the satyr species a little too literally. Gina Magid offers up cross-sections of the female anatomy that are a tad too clinical to be erotic. And Joan Linder has drawn a fat, naked man kneeling over in an office cubicle, looking for his contact. (I'm not quite sure why it bothers me, but it does.)

This show is the perfect venue for the work of local artist Scott Burns, who seems to have turned over his whole oeuvre to kinkiness. Here he has four pieces, all of which exhibit a lovely cleanliness of line, and all of which depict a devilish feminine figure tempting a fat Buddha. In one, she lifts up the back of his cloak with a stick, exposing his butt crack. In another, she hangs upside down from a tree and kisses his bald head. This stuff is a lot more palatable than some of what he was showing during the Art Crawl, where elfish figures strangled and molested nude women.

But the DW show isn't all shock and awe. There's a lot of funny stuff in here too. In Cristina Lucas's computer animation, Flying Boys, the characters do just what the title suggests: They fly about, albeit by means of a quite unconventional method of propulsion. They're fully clothed, you see, except for their penises, which whirl around like helicopter blades. These spinning phalluses are what propel the men across the screen. Such a little thing can wield so much power.

Stephen Andrews's Quicktime Interruptus is an animated sequence done in colored pencil. It's also a treat. We get the sights and sounds of someone logging on to a gay porn site. The mouse moves around and settles on a Quicktime video of one dude about to go down on another. But then pop-ups start, well, popping up in front of the action. He keeps trying to "x" out the extra windows, to no avail. Our poor protagonist can't catch a break. It's going to take a lot more one-armed typing before he's accomplished what he set out to do.

Mark Dean Veca's Clusterfuck is easily the most intricate work in the show. In this large drawing filled with cartoonish imagery, we get to see five of the Seven Dwarves having their way with Snow White, not to mention the tits of both Tinkerbell and the Land O'Lakes lady. A couple of fat samurai get it on in one part, while a sexy coed stares at us elsewhere. This work really is chock-full of imagery. Some of the lines seem to be there as formal elements, but then you blink and realize you've been staring at an opened vagina. Near the center a man does the dirty with a hearty girl from behind, which, one assumes, is a nod to the work of R. Crumb.

People have been drawing nasty pictures for thousands of years, but Crumb is the grandfather of the contemporary scene. Three of his works are on display here, one of which shows a guy staring at his engorged penis. At the top is a caption that might be the best way to describe the entire show: "unfucking real." Check it out.

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