b. 1944 – d. 1985
Ed Flood was a member of the influential group of Chicago artists known as the Imagists who burst onto the art scene in the late 1960s with a series of exhibitions at the Hyde Park Art Center organized by artist and curator Don Baum. Flood’s work was first shown in the Nonplussed Some show there in 1968.
Flood was always an exceptional craftsman. The layers of impeccably painted Plexiglas held by finely joined wood frames in these early works are a testament to his skills. Like many of the Chicago Imagists, Flood was inspired by pop cultural sources like comics and picture postcards. His method of reverse-painting on Plexiglas achieved a bright and highly polished look comparable to that of mass-produced graphics and pinball machines. Flood used layers of Plexiglas the way a printmaker would use color separations, exploding his seemingly flat images into complicated treasure boxes.
The subversive slickness of Flood’s medium in these early works is complemented by their subject matter. With calculated perfection they show dense tropical landscapes, perky palm trees, and fiery flowers. Soon the palm trees become nonsensical emblems of happiness gone awry; they vibrate mysteriously in empty fields, storm clouds gathering in the distance. By the early 1970s, Flood’s box constructions were almost entirely abstract, with layer upon layer of wiggling pastel shapes that could be clouds, trees, or sea anemones. In pieces like Zero Dead Hero and The Flaming Comet Zulu Dart Board, Flood touches on colonialism and war as contemporary examples of the inherent dangers of both real and metaphorical paradises.