THE GRACE MUSEUM SEPTEMBER 12, 2014 through FEBRUARY 14, 2015 curated by
JUDY TEDFORD DEATON
Acknowledgements The Grace Museum is pleased to present, Julie Speed: Paper Cut, a survey of works on paper created between 2002 and 2014. I have included Speedâ€™s paintings in several other exhibitions and was thrilled with the opportunity to curate a solo exhibition of her work. Over the past year, she has graciously committed a great deal of time and work to the project. I am also indebted to The Grace Museumâ€™s Board of Trustees, Executive Director Laura Moore, Exhibitions and Collections Committee and the entire museum staff for their dedication to excellence in exhibitions and support in making this exhibition a reality. Copywright 2014 Julie Speed juliespeed.com ISBN is: 978-0-9823093-4-6 Julie Speed: Paper Cut is organized by The Grace Museum and curated by Judy Tedford Deaton, Chief Curator Exhibition Sponsors Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, Texas Commissions on the Arts, Humanities Texas, Priceless Literacy, Still Water Foundation, Hunt Direct Marketing, Inc., Dian Graves Owen Foundation and Grace Museum Members
Julie Speed: Paper Cut Reality Redefined Julie Speed: Paper Cut is a selection of Julie Speed’s fastidious and ingenious works on paper created between 2000and 2014. The exhibition and catalogue present etchings, paintings and mixed media works combining drawing, collage and printmaking techniques that demonstrate the artist’s trademark technical mastery and unnerving integration of the absurd and the everyday. The dedication page written by Speed for a 2009 publication, Speed Art 2003-2009, reads, “This book is dedicated to Suzanne and Sidney Speed. Mom and Dad, thanks for not letting me watch television.” Mr. and Mrs. Speed also gave their daughter the gift of “a home where people were always making things.” Her father’s scale model replica of the Battleship Potemkin resides in the dining room of her Marfa home and her mother’s exquisite Chinese inspired ceramics fill a nearby cupboard. Working directly with her hands in partnership with the process and materials remains an integral part of her creative process. Speed’s method includes a uniquely open conversation of discovery between the artist and the work in progress. Each work of art evolves as an inquiry into possible visual and intellectual relationships and juxtapositions. The desired, precise, geometric arrangement of compositional elements sparks a subliminal click in the artist at the moment of resolution. For the viewer the drama is only beginning because although laden with scientific, mathematical and art historical data, Speed’s intention is neither narrative nor symbolic. Stating that the work is not about her personal experience, she seeks to invoke a response in the viewer, stating that the viewer’s individual reaction is an intrinsic part of the process. The result is oddly familiar and intentionally ambiguous. Reminiscent of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, the artist keeps us looking, searching for a hidden clue or secret code that will unlock the mystery. Speed’s human characters are not recognizable individuals. Body types, expressions and gestures emerge as she works, adding an extra arm or eye as a compositional device. Robust generic humans in indistinct settings interact or return our gaze while their facial expressions and interactions expose alarmingly relevant human foibles. As a result, the who, where, what and why remain unknown. Which one is the evil twin in the 2005 gouache, Evil Twin? The 2013 gouache, Manners, is a shocking parody of the title. The close proximity of violence and indifference is uncomfortably close to home. The image is cool and calculated and the meticulously crosshatched surface laying of color is seductive in sharp contrast to the brutality of the scene. Collage and gouache works such as Kunisada’s Ghosts, contains art historical references. The title mentions Japanese woodcut print master Kunisada, but Speed is never literal in her appropriations whether it is her meticulous Italian Renaissance master painting technique or the anguish of Francisco de Goya, Hieronymus Bosch and Francis Bacon. She admittedly works in a series of obsessions prompted by a new discovery, such as the 19th century scientific illustrations or Swedish Bible illustrations that art used in several works in this exhibition. The most recent works in the exhibition are large gouache, collage and sepia ink “floaters” created in 2013 and 2014. Death and the Maiden, In Flagrante and In Flagrante Again give the impression of microscopic organisms with delicately drawn flagella floating freely on a white background. Speed’s ongoing intellectual inquiry into biology, psychology, physics and mathematics is once again recast creating her unique brand of 21st century commentary without a hint of cliché. I too would like to thank Speed’s parents for not allowing their daughter to watch television, exemplifying the value of fine craftsmanship, and supporting her insatiable intellectual curiosity. Intentional or not, Julie Speed exposes our collective dreams, fears, and desires with a poetic ambiguity that straddles the fine line between the grotesque and the gorgeous. She knows how to make us look but does not presuppose to offer the answers . . . that is something we must discover for ourselves.
Judy Tedford Deaton, Chief Curator, The Grace Museum 5
LARGE APPLE STILL LIFE 6
CAIN AND ABEL 7
WARFLOWERS # 2 9
VITO AND THE HYENA QUEEN
MRS. GARFIELD’S VIEW
FIGURE 40 13
WOMEN’S STUDIES 14
EVIL TWIN 15
AD REFERENDUM, VARIATION VIII (Smoke)
AD REFERENDUM, VARIATION I (Observations) 17
WHILE STILL ALIVE 18
THE BIRTH OF DEMOCRACY
MINAMATA BIRD 19
EQUILIBRIUM (Big Red Balls) 20
ADIOS & AMEN
TRICK SNAKES 22
LAUNCH II 26
THE PIRATE QUEEN 27
OPEN PORPOISE 28
OPEN PORPOISE PINK 29
GOD’S EAR 30
IN FLAGRANTE 32
BLACK HOLE 36
THE SPECIALISTS 38
KUNISADA’S GHOSTS 40
MAN IN AN IRON MASK 43
MERCURY IN JAPAN 45 45
UNTITLED (BIRDS) 46
IN FLAGRANTE AGAIN 48
POPE DESCENDING 52
DEATH AND THE MAIDEN 56
UNTITLED (THORNS) 62
THE NAVIGATOR 64
PAPER CUT My studio used to be the jail for Fort D.A. Russell, a former calvary base on the edge of the town of Marfa, Texas about 60 miles north of the Mexican border in the Chihauhuan desert. It’s a big building so I’m lucky to have a separate space just for collage. I’ve been collecting wrecked books, moldy magazines and wormeaten and water damaged engravings from flea markets and yard sales for most of my life. When I walk to town to pick up the mail I almost always come home with a few bits of metal or wood that I’ve found along the road or railroad tracks. Sometimes people send me things. My cupboards are full. Because of the infinite possibilities involved with working in collage and because too many choices make you crazy, I limit my materials by a couple of rules. First one is: no tearing up good books…. so fire, flood and children are my friends. Second rule is no using the computer. If I need to alter something I alter it with a tiny brush and paint or a knife. Some sections I paint entirely with gouache so the finished work often ends up much closer to a painting than a collage. Sometimes vice versa. Sometimes the collage pieces I add are dimensional so the work turns into a box. To begin, I use an exacto knife to cut out the pieces, sort them into rough categories, then pick up a piece that I particularly like and paint the edges of the paper with a warm gray gouache to camouflage the cut. Then I’ll pick up a dozen or so other pieces that look like they belong with the first piece and paint their edges also. Next, using a reversible pressure sensitive putty, I start positioning the first pieces onto an Arches paper ground. The size of the pieces that I start with dictates the size of the ground. Sometimes it takes a couple of days to get the first 3, 5, or 7 pieces right. Each time you add an element or shift one of the pieces even slightly then the distance/weight relationships between all the other pieces also change, so balance is a constantly moving target. When the anchor pieces are right, I glue them down with acrylic matte gel, using an etching brayer and/or rolling pin with repeated pressure to squeeze out the excess gel. Then I weigh them down overnight with heavy pieces of glass. If there’s a lot of mold on the 66
paper I’ll later add a top layer of gel medium to stabilize it. The next day I start to paint. I’ll paint for a while, then add another collage piece and on and on back and forth. If I need to cut a larger or very complicated piece of paper, or if I need to glue several pieces to each other before gluing them to the ground, I’ll use a pencil and tracing paper to demarcate where the knife goes and where the glue goes. Most of the collage pieces that I originally altered with a knife I’ll alter many times again with a brush and paint. With each added element, whether paint or collage, the possibilities multiply. As the days go on, the visual equation becomes exponentially more complicated. The more complicated it is, the more fun it is. This piece, Death and the Maiden, is one of a reoccurring series that I’ve been working on, on and off since 2007. I call them “floaters”. They began with a winter trip down the South Texas coast where on a deserted beach we found what seemed to be some kind of grim jellyfish Jonestown involving thousands of Portuguese man o’ war. The sand was littered with their bodies…amazing blue and purple and green and pink glistening jellies…some of them still living. So I started to think about what their tentacles would look like moving in the underwater currents, then that expanded to thinking about everything that floats and how it moves and the spaces in-between. From tentacles it was a short hop to dendrites and neurons and from there to other body parts, both visible and microscopic. What’s swirling inside us looks remarkably like what’s swirling in the deepest oceans and the night sky also. Body parts, shells, plant parts, nebulae, splashes and explosions are all similar in structure and seem to lend themselves to being combined, painted and altered in as many combinations as I can possibly invent with a knife and paint. It’s an endless puzzle ……which is the whole point really because the satisfaction for me is in the work. Julie Speed, July 2014 Turns out Men O’ War aren’t jellyfish at all, or even a single animal. They’re a colony of zooids, individual organisms which cannot exist on their own. 67
ALPHABETICAL LIST OF WORKS
Ad Referendum, Variation I (Observations)
2005, polymer gravure etching with Chine collé, 23.5 x 17.5 in.
Ad Referendum, Variation VIII (Smoke)
2005, polymer gravure etching with Chine collé, acrylic, gouache and collage, 23.5 x 17.5 in
Adios and Amen
2007, mixed media box, 12.5 x 10 x 3 in.
2007, collage and gouache, 27.75 x 18.5 in.
2004, aquatint and mixed media on paper, 22 x 15 in.
Birdblind 2012, collage and gouache, 20 x 13.5 in. Black Hole 2011, collage and gouache on star chart, 22.5 x 16.25 in. Cabbagehead
2000, collage and gouache, 7 x 5.5 in.
Cain and Abel
2000, gouache and collage, 20 x 14.25 in.
Compass 2011, collage and gouache, 17.5 x 17.5 in. Dead Poet 2002, collage on paper, 8 x 19.75 in.
Death and the Maiden
In Flagrante Again
Kunisada's Ghosts 2013, gouache and collage, 29.5 x 41 in.
2011, collage and gouache on star chart, 16 x 21.75 in. 2013, gouache, collage and sepia ink, 40 x 58 in. 2013, gouache, collage and sepia ink, 40 x 59 in.
Large Apple Still Life
2001, collage and gouache, 15.5 x 11.5 in.
2011, etching with gouache and Chine collé, ed. 25, 26.5 x 22 in.
2013, gouache, 16 x 20 in. 2013, collage and gouache, 20 x 16 in. 2009, collage and gouache, 30 x 22 in. 2011, found paper collage with gouache, 22.75 x 17 in.
2002, collage on paper, 8.25 x 11.75 in.
The Birth of Democracy
2007, mixed media box, 13.25 x 7.25 x 3 in.
2012, mixed media box, 11.5 x 8.5 x 3 in.
2013, gouache, 22 x 20 in.
Man in an Iron Mask
The Pirate Queen
2013, found paper, iron, wood and glass eye, 12 x 10.75 in.
2013, gouache, 24 x 29 in.
2011, found paper, leather, gold leaf and painted wood box, 13.75 x 9 in.
2011, polymer gravure etching with gouache and Chine collé, varied edition of 50, 12.25 x 15.75 in.
2012, collage and gouache, 14.75 x 9.25 in.
2012, collage and gouache, 8.75 x 5.75 in.
Mercury in Japan
2012, collage, gouache, wood and tire, 14 x 11 in.
2007, collage, gouache, acrylic and wood on paper, 30 x 22 in.
2014, gouache, collage and ink, 40 x 60 in
2007, mixed media box, 12 x 9.25 in.
2013, gouache and collage, 32.75 x 28.25 in.
Double White 2012, collage and gouache, 13 x 8 in.
2014, gouache and collage, 29.5 x 41 in.
Equilibrium (Big Red Balls)
Mrs. Garfield’s View
Vito and the Hyena Queen
2007, mixed media box, 22 x 18 x 4 in.
2005, gouache, 18 x 24 in.
Fetish 2012, collage, gouache, brass, wood and bronze, 8.75 x 13 in. Figure 40
2009, collage and gouache, 11.25 x 7.25 in
Fly 33 2003, mixed media collage with gouache, 8 x 10 in..
2014, gouache and collage, 32 x 37.5 in.
2000, collage and gouache, 10.25 x 12.5 in.
2002, gouache and collage, 20 x 16 in.
Nebula, 2007, mixed media box, 12.25 x 12.25 x 3 in.
Warflowers # 2
2008 collage and gouache 30 x 22in.
While Still Alive
2011, polymer gravure etching with Chine collé, ed. 40, 19.75 x 11 in.
2007, collage, acrylic and wood, 13.125 x 10.25 in.
Open Porpoise, Variation II (Herod’s Notebook)
2012, mixed media box, 11.25 x 8.25 x 3 in.
2011, polymer gravure etching with Chine collé and collage, 19.75 x 11 in.
2005, polymer gravure etching with gouache and Chine collé, ed. 40, 14 x 18 in.
Art catalog for the Grace Museum works on paper by Julie Speed exhibition, Sept. 12, 2014 - Feb. 14, 2015