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Dishman hosts Speed paintings

"War Room" by Julie Speed
"War Room" by Julie Speed

The Dishman Art Museum is hosting Julie Speed’s “East of the Sun & West of the Moon” exhibition through Nov. 13.

The show features nearly 30 works of art from the last five years exploring Speed’s mining of Western and Eastern imagery, her combination of structured and spontaneous processes, and her creation of narratives and worlds that ignite the viewer’s imagination.

“Julie Speed's latest works, a combination of oil, gouache and collage, are technically brilliant and incredibly imaginative,” Dennis Keil, director of the Dishman Art Museum, said. “Viewers will be intrigued by their implied narratives and, after spending time with the paintings, will be excited and inspired by the discoveries they make.

“There’s something in each one of these paintings that our students will find inspiring and possibly educational. Each art piece is very different. I want the audience to give these pieces a chance, because the more time you spend with art, the more discoveries you’ll make.”

Speed said she draws inspiration from the mundane placements of everyday objects.

  “My job is just to pay very close attention to little things that I notice, like the shape of a blotch on the wall or an upside-down photograph on a newspaper that I left on the floor,” she said.  “Or sometimes it comes from the inside — a picture that comes into my mind while I’m out walking or taking a bath. From there, one thing just leads to another but it’s not a straight line.”

Speed, a Chicago native who now lives in Marfa, incorporates low-cost or free materials in her artwork.

“When I was a teenager, there were big urban renewal projects going on where I lived, so I stole things from abandoned buildings,” she said. “Later, I bought from yard sales, junk stores and flea markets. At least once a year I would take junk hunting trips, but now most of the flea markets, even in the most remote places, are so picked over it’s not worth the gas, so I get a lot from Ebay.

“Also, people sometimes send me things. One person sent me a half dozen 1947 Czechoslovakian star maps — I’ve used all but one.”

Julie Speed in her Marfa studio. Courtesy photo
Julie Speed in her Marfa studio. Courtesy photo

Much of the paper she uses for the collaged elements of her work is salvaged from floods or fires.

“The Japanese woodblock prints I use are smoke, water or age damaged, and often riddled with wormholes,” she said. “The paper they’re printed on, Kozo, is made from mulberry bark so the worms love it. So, I suppose fire, flood and worms are my friends.

“My personal rules are that I’m not allowed to wreck any good books or use the computer (to find images). If I used the computer then that would make it an open-ended game of quicksand.”

In the Dishman Auditorium, an eight-minute film, “Closeup Room,” shows Speed at work and details of her paintings.

“I made it as a three-channel work, but for this show it had to be condensed into a one channel so you can’t see the detail quite as well,” she said. “It shows work in progress and ‘how-to’ details of all the paintings in the show. There’s a segment where you can watch one of the oil paintings being made from the under drawing right up to the end.”

 There are more videos on Speed’s website.

“One is called ‘Underneath Water Rights,’ which I put together last year for a collector who asked me to explain what I was thinking about when I made the painting she bought,” she said. I also post work-in-progress clips three or four times a week on my Instagram account.”

The Dishman Art Museum is located on the corner of MLK Parkway and East Lavaca on the Lamar University campus.

For more information, visit,, or, or follow Speed on her Instagram @speedstudiomarfa.

Julie Speed's studio in Marfa, Texas. Courtesy photo
Julie Speed's studio in Marfa, Texas. Courtesy photo


Category: Features