Josh Flood wants to show how pop art can be more than just depictions of a Campbell's soup can. The 27-year-old says his version of pop art has more to do with what's going on in the world today, and how that world relates to our everyday lives. Flood is part of a group of local artists working to connect young people to art through events, projects and volunteering. Check out Flood's paintings at The Living Room (thelivingroomtucson.com), 413 E. Fifth St., from 7 to 10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 18, as part of Paper Stacks, a group show that includes music and poetry readings. Connect with Flood and see his art at twitter.com/JoshFloodArt.
How long have you been in Tucson?
I've lived here ever since I was 2 years old, off and on. My parents moved around a little bit. They did mostly made-for-TV movies, but I went to school here my whole life.
What have you been doing the last few years?
I was living in Brooklyn (N.Y.) for about a year. I had a solo show out in San Diego on Sept. 13 of last year. Ever since then, I've been focusing on the kind of stuff I've been calling PostPopstract Expressurrealism—pop art imagery, but with more of an expressionistic twist. I'll use a lot of found objects and collage work, but still with a poppy linear quality and bright colors. ... Lately, (I've been) focusing on very painterly work, but I'd like to bridge into more 3-D. Right now, it's easier to do painting and easier to get cheap supplies.
Painting can still be expensive. What do you do to save money?
I've used a lot of latex house paint. That's a lot cheaper than fine-art supplies. I look for a lot of deals. ... Honestly, living downtown, I find a lot of canvasses. It's a hippie Christmas when all the college students leave, and they leave everything out. They might leave out a canvas they tried to paint. At the swap meet, I find good deals on street signs.
How do you describe your work?
Most of my stuff has been highly layered and visually complex. Before, a lot of pop art was really simple, but I like juxtaposing these pop art images, resonating images, and putting a new spin on them. ... I like the idea of connecting all these things we live around and we're trying to make sense of.
It seems 27 is a good age to do your own thing.
I feel pop art was important, but it was also coming to birth at the same time as abstract expressionism. I was taught they were diametrically opposed forces, but I don't think so. Both obviously exist within us. I try to represent that in my art. I love the lowest of lowbrow folk art—the crazy person drawing in the street—to fine art. I love the work of El Greco and Goya. At this point, especially the youth of today, we're so used to this unique pastiche of all these forms coming together. It's kind of like birthing a new form.
Is it difficult to want to strike out on your own?
It's definitely hard. A lot of areas have been explored, but that's part of what art is. You have to look at yourself in the context of art history. You have to realize it is a dialogue and (ask) how you can be part of that dialogue. It might be only changing something a little bit, or it might be creating a whole new genre of art. But I want to be important. ... I want my work to be relevant. It's an exciting time to think I might be on the cutting edge of a new genre.
What's your take on downtown redevelopment?
It depends. I'm kind of conflicted. I know artists who are threatened with losing their studios or lost their studios. But I also appreciate what some business is doing downtown. I got hired to do a railroad mural at Maynards. The restaurant is actually named after my great-grandpa Maynard Flood, a Southern Pacific engineer. That's his image on the backside of the dinner menu.
That's pretty cool.
Yeah, that's him. The fact that local businesses are supporting murals gives downtown a true artistic vibe. ... (We need) a balance for downtown ... If big corporations were to come to (Fourth) Avenue, I don't think they would be supported. People ... want to keep money in the community and keep that money in their town. That's the kind of feeling that brought me back to Tucson after living elsewhere—that big small-town vibe.