Ruiz-Healy Art, San Antonio and Flatbed Press and Gallery, Austin are pleased to present Julie Speed: Undertoad, an exhibition of paintings, prints, and collages spanning two cities. The exhibition at Ruiz-Healy Art curated by Patricia Ruiz-Healy will run February 17 -March 19 and at Flatbed Press and Gallery curated by Katherine Brimberry. The artist will be in attendance for both opening receptions at Ruiz-Healy Art, Wednesday, February 17th 6:00-8:00pm and at Flatbed Press and Gallery, Friday, February 19th 6:00-8:00pm. A joint catalogue with essay by Lyle W. Williams, Curator of Prints and Drawings at The McNay Art Museum is available.
After dropping out of Rhode Island School of Design at age 19, Julie Speed spent her twenties moving around the U.S. and Canada working pick-up jobs (house painter, horse trainer, ad writer, farm worker etc.) until moving to Texas in 1978 where she settled down and taught herself to paint. She switches back and forth regularly between oil painting, printmaking, collage, gouache and drawing, often combining disciplines. Utilizing her keen sense of the absurd, Speed ponders the big questions—the role of religion, isolation and longing, sexuality, sin and guilt—with a sly, sometimes dark, sense of humor and a steadfast refusal to offer the viewer any tidy resolutions. It is the emphatically open-ended and omnivorous nature of her work, combining anxiety, erotica, and violence with the subversive power of beauty that puts Speed in the vanguard of a return to figurative painting in contemporary art.
Speed has written that when it comes to the question of how we are to interpret her works, “my thoughts, even my really, really deep thoughts, about them carry no more weight than anyone else’s.” Does that mean we are cast adrift like the people on the sinking boats Speed so often includes in the backgrounds of her compositions? No, not at all. We must rely on our own experiences, knowledge, and prejudices. In other words, we must rely upon what we have packed away in the cultural baggage we bring with us when we travel to Speed’s world.
Speed has exhibited throughout the United States and internationally at numerous galleries and museums. The Undertoad exhibition runs concurrently at both Ruiz-Healy Art in San Antonio and Flatbed Press and Gallery in Austin, Texas and celebrates the artist’s 50th and 51st solo exhibitions. Two monographs by UT Press have been published on Speed’s artwork: SPEED, ART 2003-2009 and Julie Speed: Painting, Constructions and Works on Paper. Speed’s artworks can be found in a number of public collections including Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, The Art Museum of Southeast Texas, The Grace Museum, The McNay Art Museum, The Contemporary Austin and the San Antonio Museum of Art.