Hudson Marquez is excited about his upcoming show at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Hollywood, starting January 9, 2015 and running through February 1, 2015. Hudson said, “There are going to be 15 paintings in the show. Six of those are musical paintings, six shoe paintings—-mix and match! Get two for stereo! You wouldn’t want a mono painting”. That’s pretty much the story of Hudson’s life—art, music, art, shoes and all with a wry sense of humor. Take ‘Risky Shoes’, for example, one of the paintings that will be featured at the gallery. “I’ve got six purely ‘shoe’ paintings that are eight pairs of shoes. I love women in high heels. I love high heels, I love the architecture. I love super-high heels, almost stiletto heels. But I hate those ballerina shoes and the ballerina shoes fetish. I like tall heels. They’re in every pinup.”
Hudson continued, “So when I grew up, you could go to—-I grew up in New Orleans—-when I was 13, they would let us in, in 1960, because we were local and because they really didn’t give a shit, that was a mob thing, Bourbon Street was kind of wild and they let us in the clubs. We’d sit at the bar and what do we see? We’d see high heels. They’d catch you looking at them and some woman would come up and tweak your cheek, she’d see kids so she’d think it’s cute. But we were basically eye level with shoes so I always associated immediately from that time on, ‘High heels equals pussy. That’s a good thing’. So also, you grew up in an era when your mom wore high heels, everybody wore high heels. You spent the first couple of years of your life looking at high heels. So, and I think there’s some of that deep Freudian shit on that, but I just love heels and I love painting them”.
Women’s shoes aren’t the only subject, even in some of the shoe paintings. According to Hudson, “There’s a painting of men’s shoes too in the show. It’s called ‘Conking and Stepping’. It’s got Junior Wells, Esquerita, a kind of obscure blues guy from New Orleans, another blues guy from New Orleans called Mighty Mouse Jackson and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson. Under that, I’ve paired each one with a pair of shoes. Then there’s women with ‘High Hair and Higher Heels’. And they are strippers, except for Ronnie Spector. I don’t think Ronnie ever took her clothes off for money. Well, kind of but not on a full stage. So that’s what those shoes are about. The ‘Risky Shoes’ are the kind that risk getting chased if they wear these kinds of heels. Risky business. A lot of these shoes are made to only be worn in the bedroom, or in a car that drive—–you go from the car to the restaurant table. That’s it. You can’t walk around in them”.
Hudson Marquez grew up in New Orleans in the ’50s and ’60s, learning about the rich musical history of the area as well as being exposed to some of the great talents that were playing in the area in those years, at places such as New Orlean’s Dew Drop Inn, owned by a barber, Mr. Frank Panea. He reminisced, “I saw some pretty amazing shit there. Ray Charles, Esquerita and Little Richard all played down there. I saw James Brown there with a small group—-this is all 1960, 61……62…..I saw everybody. There was a local newspaper when I was a boy, called the Louisiana Weekly. I’d get that as a kid and see who was coming to town. That’s how I would work up my nerve, me and my friend Elliot, to get in, because Ray Charles was there. Mr. Frank let us in. There was a law on the books—-I doubt it is still there—–that you couldn’t have black people and white people in the same place, not a black band with a white audience or in a restaurant or hotel. Black people could only watch black bands and white people white bands……it was a terrible law of course and Mr. Frank didn’t believe in that law. He was arrested a number of times for ‘race mixing’, because he let white people into the club”.
Between art classes beginning around the age of 15, through art school after he graduated from high school, Hudson Marquez developed a lifelong appreciation of art. He dropped out of art school and traveled a lot, looking for the inspiration one of his instructors told him about. Eventually, he started the ‘Ant Farm‘, a conceptually based artist’s/architect’s commune in 1968 with some like-minded friends. During this time, he made friends with and also worked with groups such as Canned Heat and Led Zeppelin. By 1974, the Ant Farm artist’s work culminated in one of the most iconic pieces of American art ever made, the ‘Cadillac’ Ranch’. Located just outside of Amarillo, Texas, the 10 Cadillacs planted nose-down are visible near I-40 and are repainted regularly, for ad campaigns, memorials to the artists, or sometimes on just the whim of the artists who created them. For years after that Hudson involved himself in the motion picture and television industry, but eventually came back to doing his art.
Some of the paintings from the ‘Rhythm and Shoes’ show at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery depict just shoes while others tell stories, sometimes true and sometimes—-well—-embellished a little. “The painting of Little Richard getting whomped with the catfish is a true story”, Hudson said. “But outside of the Ike Turner painting, the other stories are true too. The Freddie King painting is not a true story. The story I heard is that there was this place in Dallas that served chili and that Freddie really loved his chili. He’d eat chili, get pumped up—-in the afternoon he’d eat three bowls of chili. Then he had a heart attack and died in the booth at that restaurant/club. That’s what I’d always heard and it made perfect sense to me. Freddie King was a big guy, a man of lustful appetites, i.e. cocaine. The real story—-I wanted to paint it, but I didn’t want to paint it if I couldn’t confirm it. So I got a hold of Freddie’s manager in Dallas and he told me that story wasn’t true. Freddie had actually been up until 4:30 in the morning at this other place in Dallas, snorting coke and playing cards. Drinking. On his way home at 4:30 in the morning, Freddie started feeling his heart racing and started getting pains. He was too fucked up to know where a hospital was so Freddie piled in a phone booth and started dialing for a hospital. Right in the phone booth he had a heart attack and died. So that’s the REAL story. His manager told me that a sad fact was that he couldn’t fit in the phone booth. He got the phone off the hook, but that was it. A sad story. I didn’t want to do that, but rather a painting called ‘Freddie King’s Last Meal’. A friend then suggested, ‘WAS THIS Freddie King’s Last Meal? And that’s it, so I painted it!”.
The ‘Rhythm and Shoes’ exhibit begins Friday, January 9 and continues through Sunday, February 1 at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery. An opening reception will be Friday, January 9 from 8 to 11pm, with an artist’s talk coming up Sunday, January 18 from 2 to 4pm.The gallery is located at 4633 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90027. For information please contact the gallery at (323) 666-7667.