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 Sandow Birk  (1962 - )

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Lived/Active: California/Michigan      Known for: social issues, allegorical, graffiti

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
North Kern State Prison, Delano, California, 2000
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from the artist, relative to his experiences on a Fulbright Scholarship, and is posted on the website: http://exchanges.state.gov/fulbrightgallery/p501.html

Much of my work concerns the social issues of urban areas and the cultures that arise from them. My original goals in going to Rio de Janeiro were to do artworks comparing and contrasting the cities of Rio and Los Angeles. I was also interested in working with local graffiti artists in possible collaborative pieces.

During my residency in Rio I was able to meet many local artists from urban street kids to folk artists to some of the country's most recognized international contemporary artists. Also, I was exposed to works that I would otherwise not have discovered, including the engravings of explorer-travelers such as Debret and Rugendas.

During my residency in Rio I was able to complete more than 40 large-scale pencil drawings and some 15 paintings and other works which culminated in the exhibition "Carioca: A year Among the Natives of Rio de Janeiro." The exhibition opened at the Laguna Art Museum in Southern California and traveled to the San Jose museum of Art, CA in 1998 and 1999.

Biography
Raised on the beaches of Orange County and currently living and working in Los Angeles, Sandow Birk is a product of California culture. Well traveled and a graduate of the Otis/Parson's Art Institute, his work has dealt with Los Angeles in its entirety. With an emphasis on social issues, frequent themes of his past work have included daily life in L.A.'s barrios, inner city violence, graffiti, various political issues, surfing, and skateboarding.

His work has been shown extensively throughout the US, including a solo exhibition entitled "Carioca" at the Laguna Art Museum in 1997, and work in "It's Only Rock'n'Roll", a nationally traveling exhibition organized by the Phoenix Art Museum. He was a recipient of an NEA International Travel Grant to Mexico City in 1995, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996, and a Fulbright Research Scholarship to Rio de Janeiro for 1997. In 1999 he was awarded a Getty Fellowship for painting.

He is also a City of Los Angeles (COLA) Fellowship recipient for 2001. Sandow is represented by the Koplin Gallery in Los Angeles, Catherine Clark Gallery in San Francisco, and the Earl McGrath Gallery in New York City. Sandow's epic, pseudo-historical series of the "The Great War of the Californias", in which Los Angeles and San Francisco wage all out war for control of the Golden State, was featured at the Laguna Art Museum through the summer of 2000.
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The following is from http://www.trilliumpress.com/inferno/index.php. Permission for use was given by Matt Pipes, Registrar of Trillium Press, Brisbane CA.

Sandow Birk has embarked upon a new book project with Trillium Press. He has illustrated and, along with Marcus Sanders, retranslated Dante's Inferno. This dynamic translation sets the scene for the Inferno to modern day Los Angeles. The text and its subsequent images include over 60 original lithographs printed at Trillium Press. The book is in an edition of 100 and will be hand signed by the artist. Birk's Dante's Inferno is being released March 1, 2003.

About Dante's Inferno: A word from the President of Trillium, Richard Lang Dante's original vision was audacious for its time, in essence a re-figuring of the Biblical Canon a contoured retelling of Dante's journey through the afterlife. The Divine Comedy was at once a spiritual document and a political treatise on how humanity fails the spiritual test and how redemption through universal love creates a new political structures here on earth in this life.

It is in this tradition that we embark on an audacity of our own publishing a re-translation of Dante's seminal work into the images and street language of today. This opens the poem to audiences both familiar with Dante and the audience that would never encounter the original. In our western culture we all know Dante by the undertow he provides for our common understanding. Here, the vision of Hell is full of the familiar scenes of contemporary Los Angeles, home of Sandow, and truly, any major post-historical city. The ever watchful helicopters of the LAPD search the Stygian skies, familiar images of the mythic are turned into corporate logos, and the classical images of our past re-configured into Minotaurs guarding the fast food villas of the dammed. We look at these images, amusing and terrifying in one glance, ancient and full of Sandow's contemporary stance, and feel uplifted by the reinvigorated vision of Dante's original contribution to the Canon of human thought.

About the illustrations: A word from Master Printer David Salgado
All of the illustrations for Dante's Inferno are original lithographs. Each plate was hand drawn by Sandow Birk, using an ink-filled drafting pen with a 000 nib, the drawings were done in the Summer and Fall of 2002.

All of the lithographs were printed by Master Printer and Trillium founder, David Salgado on a Mailänder flatbed proofing press. Each impression is inked 4 times and printed twice to achieve a rich, full impression. The ink used to print all the illustrations for Dante's Inferno is a warm transparent black that suits the warm color of the 230 gram White Arches Cover paper on which it is printed.

About the artist
Sandow Birk received his BFA from Otis Art Institute of Parson's School of Design, Los Angeles, in 1988. In 1985 he studied at the Bath Academy of Art, Bath, England, and at the American College in Paris/Parson's School of Design in Paris, France. He is the recipient of numerous awards including a J. Paul Getty Fellowship for the Visual Arts; a Fulbright Grant to travel to Rio de Janeiro; a Guggenheim Fellowship; and a National Endowment for the Arts US/Mexico International Exchange Scholarship.

His work has been included in 25 group exhibitions and he has had over 20 solo exhibitions at such institutions as the Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA; San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA; and the Centro Nacional de las Artes, Mexico City, DF. Birk has been interviewed on NPR for his, "In Smog and Thunder; Historical Works from the Great War of the California," project and has received regional and national reviews of his exhibitions in the Los Angeles Times, Juxtapoz Magazine, The New York Times, Art Issues, the Chicago Sun-Times to name only some. Birk resides in Long Beach, CA, and when he isn't making art, he is surfing. This book marks the third collaboration between Sandow Birk and Trillium Press.







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