Trending
MOST READ
San Antonio Music Awards 2014: Best New Artist

San Antonio Music Awards 2014: Best New Artist

San Antonio Music Awards 2014: 10/1/2014
San Antonio Music Awards 2014: Best Guitarist

San Antonio Music Awards 2014: Best Guitarist

San Antonio Music Awards 2014: 10/1/2014
San Antonio Music Awards 2014: Best Album

San Antonio Music Awards 2014: Best Album

San Antonio Music Awards 2014: 10/1/2014
San Antonio Music Awards 2014: Best Indie Rock Band

San Antonio Music Awards 2014: Best Indie Rock Band

San Antonio Music Awards 2014: 10/1/2014
San Antonio Music Awards 2014: Best Vocalist

San Antonio Music Awards 2014: Best Vocalist

San Antonio Music Awards 2014: 10/1/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Arts & Culture

Julie Speed at Southwest School of Art

Photo: Courtesy photos, License: N/A

Courtesy photos

Julie Speed, Hostage

Photo: , License: N/A

Jawbone


Edouard Manet’s Olympia sparked scandal at the Paris Salon in 1865, not just for the female figure’s nudity, but also for her direct, confrontational gaze, the frank stare of a prostitute rather than the demureness of Ottoman Empire odalisques painted by male artists since the 16th century. Texas artist Julie Speed inserts a 21st-century woman’s perspective into these objects of the male gaze by erasing the face of a classical odalisque and painting in a scowling, unhappy expression for Suzannah, Annoyed that screams, “Not so fast, buster!”

Frustrated feminism appears to be a theme running through Speed’s show, “Cut-Up,” at the Southwest School of Art, but maybe it’s just my imagination; since her metaphysical puzzles are intended to be like Rorschach tests, open to interpretation. However, the solemn women’s heads in Women’s Studies have hair and blouses patterned with Biblical scenes depicting all the trouble caused by Eve. Speed’s multimedia collages are embellished with her richly detailed illustrations in sepia ink, gouache and watercolor. The temptation is to label her work surrealistic, but her antique-looking, multilayered compositions more closely resemble Renaissance-style allegories.

Speed rarely paints nudes, but they dominate her two largest, strongest painted collages. Subverting the traditional idea of feminine beauty, Speed’s nudes are muscular and scrappy. Fish Supper might be a self-portrait, though it doesn’t resemble the artist, who left Austin to move to Marfa. A woman wearing a half-male mask topped by an elaborate thinking cap — a somewhat androgynous intellectual, perhaps adrift in far West Texas — talks, sips wine and dines on fish before a Spanish-style arched window overlooking a desert with Holstein cows. The Supplicants each have three arms and in the background are dramatic images of petitioners pleading before kings or popes. Does Speed think women, mankind’s eternal supplicants, will have to grow an extra arm before they can be considered equal to binary males, who continue to occupy most of the seats of power?

Wearing men’s clothing, The Pirate Queen is a vintage symbol of feminine freedom, though her eyes have a curious, cubist twist echoed in twin portraits, Hostage and Jawbone, which may capture the moment an angry woman switches from reasonable to irrational. However, unlike Speed’s conflicted women, the serene man in Infallible, possibly a new-crowned pontiff, is oblivious to the civilization crumbling around him.

Speed’s other mixed-media works are whimsical with a scientific bent, such as a moth popping out of a miniature launching device or a Victorian black hole consuming the cosmos, while her delicate, colored drawings of sea creatures, which may also be reproductive cells, have the amorphous forms swimming through Surrealism. “Cut-Up” partly refers to Speed clipping pictures for her collages, but she’s also smart and sometimes smart-alecky, a classy clown who backs up her sardonic social commentary with meticulous craftsmanship.

Julie Speed: Cut-Up

Free
9am-5pm Mon-Sat
11am-4pm Sun
Southwest School of Art
300 Augusta, Navarro Campus
(210) 224-1848
swschool.org
Artist Talk 6:30pm April 11
Through April 28

Recently in Arts & Culture
  • Savage Love: Friend in Need A straight male friend practices sounding and has for years. I am pretty sure he does other things that he isn’t telling anyone about... | 10/1/2014
  • Artist on Artist: Gary Sweeney interviews Catherine Lee If I ever found myself teaching an art class, I would pack up my students and drive them to Wimberley, where I would give them a tour of... | 10/1/2014
  • Free Will Astrology ARIES (March 21-April 19): As I hike through the wilderness at dusk, the crickets always seem to be humming in the distance. No matter where I go... | 10/1/2014
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus