“You’ve really gotta get out of here. You can’t spend your time just sitting in a gallery watching paintings.” This was something that Mark Flood said to me nearly every time I saw him, which happened a couple of times per week in March, 2010 when the gallery I worked at had a solo show of his. He would come in, check out the work and say, “you’re stil here? You gotta get out of here.”
Mark Flood is one of those artists who managed to work his way from the outside in. A so-called “artist’s artist,” he has no formal training and he was in a Punk band back in the day called Culturcide. His early work clearly stemmed out of this punk mentality as he spray painted signs with banal phrases and instructions on them.
These signs are still part of his lexicon, but they now reflect a more direct critique on the art world. This type of tongue-in-cheek banter with the art world is nothing new, yet his directness and use of materials help it not feel redundant.His other work includes carefully constructed paintings using lace as a stencil. While there is a strong connection to the signs through his use of stencil, he is creating precious, well-crafted objects with intricate detail that are so much more than simply another painting.
I can’t look at his work without relating it to music. That owes to the fact that Flood created a CD to play through the duration of his show. Most people couldn’t stand it, but I found myself taken with the crazy sounds coming from the boom box. It was a CD of Chopped and Screwed music – a Houston brand of Hip Hop that slows down all the beats making popular songs have a completely new sound. There are some good examples on YouTube, like this take on Rihanna’s Love Song. Since I hail from Atlanta, we had many conversations about the different forms of Southern Rap.
I do have Mark Flood to thank for getting me out from behind the reception desk and pursuing my MFA. He was right that I wasn’t going to get anywhere babysitting artwork. Then again, I did get to meet some amazing artists like Mark Flood.