It is, it is a glorious thing to be a Pirate Queen!
Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow has ruled the high seas for several years now, but there's a new buccaneer a-sail who may just jack the briny deep out from under him. She's The Pirate Queen, and though her three eyes give her face a curious tilt, she's quite the comely corsair. A cataract of thick, curled tresses frames her face and the delicate lace at her throat, and the opulence of her outfit – full, flowing fabrics bedizened with bows, cords, and shiny sashes – bespeaks a regal nature. In each hand, she grips a fish with the familiarity of one born to the water. And those tattoos! – on face and hands, enough azure curlicues to turn Queequeg sea green with envy. Who wouldn't wish to pledge fealty to (or be abducted by) such a queen?
If the excess eyeballs weren't clue enough, this fetching freebooter is the creation of artist Julie Speed, who has since childhood dreamed of sailing the bounding main under the Jolly Roger. Or so say our friends at Flatbed Press, and they should know since they've been working closely with the beloved visual artist on her latest project: seven engravings rooted in Speed's penchant for creating collages with images pirated from antique engineering and medical texts, architectural drawings, and classical illustrations. They offer eccentric combinations: the bust of a Greek goddess with howler monkeys crowding her headdress, a moth hovering above an odd valve, a bisected porpoise posed vertically against a background of sheet music. As the medium for Speed's prints is the same as that of her pilfered antique images, they foster a sense that these new pieces are hundreds of years old – maybe the meticulous mash-ups of a mad prophet pal of Nostradamus or, better yet, the lost bounty of some secret museum. Certainly, Speed's images are as rich as any treasure Blackbeard ever buried, and you don't have to hunt for hers. Sometime during the next six weeks, just make your way to Flatbed where they're being displayed, and the booty of the Pirate Queen is all yours. (A reception for the artist will take place Thursday, Dec. 1, 6-8pm.)
"The Pirate Queen: New Gravures by Julie Speed" will be on display Dec. 1-Jan. 15 at Flatbed Galleries, 2832 E. MLK. For more information, call 477-9328 x30 or visit www.flatbedpress.com.