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Episode 15
Artist Sandow Birk

  • 2 min read

Episode Description

01:11 - We speak with artist Sandow Birk about his large and diverse body of work that utilizes art history and classical techniques to examine contemporary themes of social and political consequence. Birk has completed a host of public art projects across California and his work is included in the collections of institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMOMA, the Getty, LACMA, and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

35:04 - The week's top art headlines


Craig: [00:00:11] This is Art Sense, a podcast focused on educating, informing listeners about the past, present and future of art. I'm Craig Gould. On today's episode, we speak with artists Sandow Birk about his large and diverse body of work that utilizes art history and classical techniques to examine contemporary themes of social and political consequence. Birk has completed a host of public art projects across California in his work, as included in the collections of institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMoMA, The Getty, LACMA and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art at the end of the episode, I'll be taking a look at some of the week's top art headlines. But first up, thinking big with artist Sandow Birk.

Craig: [00:01:08] So, Sandow Birk, thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast to talk about you and your work and your vision. A lot of times I'd like to begin with a similar question for all my artists that I talked to, which is if you're at a dinner party and somebody walks up to you and they ask you what you do and you say you're an artist and they ask you to describe what your work is or what it looks like. How do you describe your body of work to somebody who's never seen it before?

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Sandow: [00:01:35] Wow. Yeah, that's a common question. Especially I've had kids recently, and so once you have kids, you start hanging out less in the art world and more and just the world of soccer teams and things. And you meet a lot of people that have no idea what being a real artist is. Right? So I would generally say that I'm a contemporary artist that I do works mostly paintings and drawings that draw on art history for inspiration and try to be about political and social themes from our times, from the times we live in.

Craig: [00:02:12] That manifests itself in a lot of different ways. Your work. There seems to be a couple of common threads. One, it's kind of a reflection or a response to what's going on in our world. And it seems to be a response to art history. I guess when I look at your body of work, I'm amazed that you're one person producing this much work, it seems, because it seems really, really substantial. Let's just talk about one project, for example, like American Quran. The what? How long did that project before we even describe project in itself? How long did that take you to complete?

Sandow: [00:02:53] Well, I sat down to begin it. I was estimating it was going to take four years, but it ended up taking nine years.

Craig: [00:02:58] Oh geez.

Sandow: [00:03:01] So I would preface it by saying, You know, I've had this career. First of all, I haven't had a job since I was about 30. So maybe my late 20s I started making making a real go of it, of making my whole entire income and career just be about working. So I worked steady. I worked every day. I'm in the studio. And then over the course of my career, I've had these projects where like, I have an idea and they sort of start small and then they just grow into these bigger ideas that become bigger than I ever imagined. And then when they're finished, they're done. And then usually that one project will lead to the next project, which leads to the next project. And so it's been like to me, it's like one string that just keeps sort of growing as as I as I go.

Craig: [00:03:46] Was that nine year period that you were working on American creation? Was that the only thing you were working on or was there other work that was going on alongside it?

Sandow: [00:03:54] There had to be other work because it was unsustainable. Just, you know, as far as I didn't have any income without doing other things on the side. So I was always kind of doing side things and it was off and on. I mean, ideally, it would have been straight through. I prefer on working on only one or two things at a time. 

Craig: [00:04:10] When I was in L.A. a few weeks ago. Sean Meredith, it was displaying some of the panels from the work. And how did it start? Did you start with the thought of doing just one verse and one picture, and then it turned into something much bigger than you thought?

Sandow: [00:04:23] Yeah, you know, I'm happy to talk about this because tomorrow's 20th anniversary of 9/11 and I was actually thinking about this project all morning today. Right? But yeah, to give you some background. This project sort of started because I did a previous project in the early 2000s, it was all about the war in Iraq, and it was a big print series that I was invited to work with this master printer named Paul Maloney. And it ended up being this like three or four year long project of doing a series of enormous woodblock prints that told the whole story of the war in Iraq from from the beginning and 911 and on to the invasion. And then at the time we were working, the war was still going on. And and then, you know, imagining how that was going to end. So during those three years, I was working with my partner, who's now my wife at Peniel, and we were working with the printers and Moloney studio. And so for three years, we were like angry about the war in Iraq. We were paying attention. We were listening to NPR. This is sort of early days of working on this project, like following like the maps of the invasion and all the American radio discourse of Americans talking about Islam and all these ideas of like Islam fundamentally at odds with Western civilization.

Sandow: [00:05:58] Is it an evil religion? Is it violent religion? And just hearing this for years while we're working on this project? And it's somehow it's just sort of dawned on me during the course of this, I've been a surfer in my whole life and I travel a lot to go surfing. And so I listen to this discourse and I started thinking to myself, like, Wait a second. I've been to Islamic places in the world, and I think I counted 10 or 11 long trips to Islamic states in the world and Asia and Africa and places where I spent considerable time. And I was thinking my experiences in Islamic world is nothing like the way that Americans are discussing Islam. And sort of from that I I just sort of thought, you know, I'm sort of tired of listening to people tell me what Islam is. I'm going to go find out for myself. I just walked down to the bookstore and bought a copy of the Koran instead of reading it. And that was how the whole project came about

Craig: [00:06:58] In terms of describing what the project is. How would you describe what the project is to a layperson?

Sandow: [00:07:06] What I set out to do was make a hand transcribed English language version of the entire Koran using existing English translations. So I was writing every single word by hand, just like they used to do in the Middle Ages. And, you know, monks would do in in abbots or whatever. And I wanted to make a whole entirely handmade English version of the Quran and then illuminate all the pages with scenes of contemporary American life that reflected the meanings of the verses in the Quran, with the goal of showing that the Koran is accessible and applicable to a normal American's life. It's not some strange, crazy thing from the other side of the world. So that was sort of the idea in a nutshell.

Craig: [00:07:59] Can you give us an example of one of the panels, how you reinterpreted a scene from the Koranic text into what contemporary American life would look like in that context?

Sandow: [00:08:10] You know, the first thing just to summarize the Quran is if you've never if you have no idea what it is and you just pick it up like I did and start reading it, the first impression that it makes on you is it's incredibly familiar. It's just all the stories from the Bible told again or referred to. It's Adam and Eve and Moses and Abraham and Isaac and Jesus. There's a whole chapter devoted to Mary. It's just all the same things, and you start reading and you're like, What is the problem here? This is the same story you just told in a slightly different way. And so an example would be like in the whole chapter that talks about Noah's Ark and the flood, and it wipes out the whole world. It's sort of hard to imagine the entire world being wiped out, but it was really easy to see what happens when Hurricane Katrina wiped out New Orleans. So in those pages, I have scenes of New Orleans being flooded and people in boats and a scene of a like a guy in a driveway in Seattle, like building a canoe. So they're just scenes of people going about things that are metaphors for the story of Noah's Ark.

Craig: [00:09:18] If I remember right in that illumination, I feel like there's like a graffiti text that you created to decorate the borders. I feel like that's something that shows up like in the mihrab sculpture work that you did. Is that right?

Speaker2: [00:09:32] Yeah, that's right. You know, I wrote, I hand wrote the entire text and I was reading about the Koran. I was reading about the Quran as a historic document in Islamic artworks around the world and things, and I was very aware of how. Crucial to Islam is the, you know, the calligraphy, the beautiful calligraphy. And so I knew that if I was going to even attempt to do this project, I needed to have some sort of calligraphy, calligraphy, writing, and I started thinking well in contemporary times in the city that I live in, who are the people that still do calligraphy? And obviously, it's graffiti writers who practice their own letters and write their names over and over in different ways. And so I decided I wanted I. I thought of graffiti as being sort of a uniquely American sort of calligraphy, so I set out to use like an early, illegible, 1970s style Chicano graffiti lettering, and they sort of simplified it a little to make it more more legible.

Craig: [00:10:37] So in the end, it seems like I remember seeing that it was published as like a mono print or something. Is that am I remembering that right?

Sandow: [00:10:46] I completed the whole project is each double page. Spreads were done as works on paper, so there's about two hundred and twenty of those. So there's about 450 pages in the book, all eliminated. And when it was finished, the gallery I worked with in San Francisco as a Katherine Clark gallery, and she chased around town trying to find the publisher and ended up getting it published by Norton Books and out of New York. And they did a huge coffee table book of it at one to one scale that I had that I had done it in, and it's available in bookstores on Amazon and everything.

Craig: [00:11:26] That's just one example of some of these larger projects that you take on. I mean, I hate to call you a glutton for punishment, but I mean, some of these projects are just, you know, for example, Dante's Inferno. That's a rabbit hole that people have gone down before. And, you know, trying to visualize that that's a project that you kind of dove into. And can you talk about where that project started in the manifestations that it turned into?

Sandow: [00:11:52] Yeah, that's another that's a good example of rabbit holes, but that that project predates the War in Iraq project and predates the Koran. This was maybe around year 2000. I started working on Dante, and it began because I was in a used bookstore and I stumbled on a hardback copy of the inferno with all the prints by of them. And I had never read the inferno. I didn't study it in school, and I bought the book for like four bucks and brought it home. And I just loved it, the images. And so I'd look at it over time and sort of flip through it and look at it and started reading parts of it, and I started to get sucked into the poem. But. Eventually, I started thinking these images are so great, they would be great to reinterpret them as scenes of Los Angeles because I had a show scheduled like in a year to come up in Los Angeles. And so I went to my gallery and I said the gallery was Copeland Del Rio Gallery in L.A.. And he said, I'm thinking about doing a series of paintings based on the inferno. And she said, Great, that'll that can be your next show.

Sandow: [00:13:02] And then it just started. This whole thing just snowballed from there where she's just randomly. I got contacted out of San Francisco by a place called Trillium Press that works with artists. And they said, Would I do a project with them? And I said, I'm thinking about this inferno thing. And they said, Great, why don't you do a whole bunch of drawings and we'll make prints of the inferno? And then it was growing. We said it would be we could be like a box set, but then we all thought it's kind of silly to have a bunch of drawings of the inferno without the text of the inferno. So then we said, OK, let's just put the text and the pictures will make a book, and then we are going around trying to find out, well, what English language adaptation translation should we use? And then that led me to I had a meeting in Hollywood with a lawyer that was a copyright lawyer, this woman, and she was trying to contact publishers that had published English versions and trying to get permission to use them to reprint them. And she was having trouble, and during the course of this meeting, she was just said, You know, it's such a hassle.

Sandow: [00:14:07] Trying to get in touch with these people would be so much easier if you just translated it yourself. And she said, sort of as a whim, this joke. And that evening, I was hanging out with a surfer friend of mine named Marcus Sanders, who's a journalist, and we were in a bar talking, and he said, Well, what are you working on? I said, I'm supposed to do this Dante project, but translate it, but I don't really think about it. And he said, Well, I could do that with you. I studied it in college. I studied journalism. They said we could do that together. And so the went from that. Then suddenly we were tackling sort of an English language adaptation of the Inferno, and that led to it being published in the book and that led to an art show. And that led to it becoming a trade publication by Chronicle Books out of San Francisco. And once that was done, we went on and did purgatory the next year in paradise the next year. And by then, three and a half years ago and by. And I don't want to keep dragging this story out, but it drags out.

Craig: [00:15:08] No, I mean, no. Here's the deal. Like, we're here to hear your stories. And I think part part of who you are and part of your story is the fact that you kind of find yourself in these Moby Dick sort of, you know, tales, right? And you're you're Abe Ahab chasing this. You know, this story involves chasing Dante's Inferno, and it becomes bigger and bigger and longer and longer. And, you know, so. So we're like three and a half years into it. It keeps getting bigger. Go ahead.

Sandow: [00:15:36] It's funny. You say it that way. So then, you know, I lived a lot of years in Hollywood, and I was at a barbecue with friends of mine from the art world and we were just standing around drinking beer and talking. And we all do different things and somebody said, you know, we should make a movie sometime. And this was my friend Sean Meredith, who had gone to film school, and we're standing around with this guy, Paul Zulum. He's been a long time friend of mine, and he's a puppeteer by profession. He used to have a TV show called Beakman's World.

Craig: [00:16:11] Oh, sure, I remember Beakman's World, Sure, yeah.

Sandow: [00:16:14] So he's standing there and he's like, Well, I'm really making a movie if we do it with puppets. And we all thought that was like the weirdest idea ever. And then and we just said, Well, maybe we could do it. And they said, Well, what should be the story? And I said, Well, I'm doing this Dante thing we could do. And it's like, Sure, let's do go say. And it just sort of started this whole project where we spent two years making a feature length puppet movie of Dante's Inferno.

Craig: [00:16:37] That's crazy. And so where

Sandow: [00:16:40] It is crazy.

Craig: [00:16:42] So I know it's it's like feature length, what I find it on Amazon Prime. Or, you know, is it where I could rent it and see it? Or, you know,

Sandow: [00:16:50] You can if you Google Dante's Inferno 2007, you can find it. You can find trailers from it all around. And I think you can watch it for like $4 million. Vimeo. Uh, it was on. It was on TV for a year on the arts and entertainment for the channel. They kept showing it. They went to film festivals all around the world. And then you used to be able to get it in DVD when people had DVDs.

Craig: [00:17:18] Sure. I think I saw some stills of it, and it's not like 3-D marionette. It was like your drawings had been turned into two dimensional, flat, manipulative figures and things, right?

Sandow: [00:17:32] Yeah, that's right. It was as Paul Zulum, the expert puppeteer historian, pointed out to us that there's this whole genre called Toy Theater. It's from like the 1800s where I guess it started, like in Europe, when kids would go to the newsstand and get like a magazine and tear out the pages and there would be puppets. And then they had the little set pieces and the little stage they could build and they could do little Shakespeare plays and things. And so we took that idea and made the whole the whole movie is done with yet all hand manipulated puppets with zero computer graphics or anything. It's all just popsicle sticks and string and tape and magic markers and things, and it's really good. It's really it's really funny and really political. It's kind of amazing how good it is.

Craig: [00:18:19] So your idea is, how does it happen, all of your work? You know, when we look backwards, they all look like they're in very neat silos that, you know, here's this concept. Here's around a particular guiding question or a problem or, you know, some social issue, but at the beginning of these processes, it's probably not so neat. How do you stumble upon something that you want to turn into something bigger?

Sandow: [00:18:47] I guess usually it usually goes back to art history. When I went to art school, I did a year exchange program in in Europe, at Parsons, in Paris and at the Academy of Art in England. And I did my other three years at the Art Institute in L.A. But the year I spent in Europe was super influential to me to be at the louver and at the Tate and looking at all the old master paintings in the French Impressionists and the French romantic paintings and. And so, yeah, I really loved art history through my I've always loved it, so I would I have no idea as I just start going to the library or going to museums and looking at things that I really like, and then they sort of just bleed into the thinking I have about problems going on in the world and somehow they blend together

Craig: [00:19:41] Some some of these. I mean, they're just it's just really genius. As we're talking, I'm looking in front of me. I have pictures from your series Prison Nation. I mean, these are beautiful landscape paintings just by themselves. Can you describe that series for us?

Sandow: [00:19:55] Sure. And it's it's a good example in a nutshell of how I work. I had finished some project or another. I was fishing around with not really any idea what was what I was going to work on next. And I frequently drawn towards like amazing artworks from the past that are sort of overlooked that aren't part of the main trajectory, the main canon of art history. And so I got really interested in the American landscape painting The Great of Thomas Moran and Albert Beardsley and all those people. And, you know, they're just amazing paintings when you see them and they're not, you don't really learn about them in art school. It's sort of like an a side thing. And. So was interested in them, I started reading about them, I got a big book about American landscape paintings. I was really impressed with the virtuosity of the painting. And I was driving around L.A. and looking at them in the museums. The examples that we have nearby, which there's many and reading for a couple of weeks, I was just reading and it was so interesting how these at this one period that the the East Coast painters were coming out to the Western territories and, you know, right before photography and they were painting what became Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon and Yosemite and California's Sierra Nevada and doing these amazing paintings and reading about them. It was all about this American view of the West Coast being the Garden of Eden like American Paradise, where you could come to California and dig gold out of the ground and eat oranges off the trees, and it never rained.

Sandow: [00:21:41] And so I'm immersed in this painting and just thinking, and then I'm driving my car along and just randomly on the radio. Ever heard this conversation where somebody just says, Oh yeah, California is the most incarcerated people on the planet Earth? And that sentence, like, just astounded me that here I'm thinking about 150 years ago, there was almost no one in California. It was considered the Eden of America. And now it's become the most incarcerated population in the world. It was like thinking, Well, what happened in 150 years to go from one to the other? And from that like glimmer of an idea, I thought, you know, I never really think about prisons. I don't know what they look like. Maybe I should go look at one. And then I thought, Well, maybe I could do a show where I paint all the prisons in California. And I thought, Oh, that's going to be like eight or 10 paintings. And from that, I started painting every prison in California and found out there's 33 state prisons. I think eight federal prisons and countless county jails and city jails and things. So I set out to paint every state prison in California, and I did, and it took me three years.

Craig: [00:22:54] You were inserting them into these classical landscapes, though, right? Like you were. I mean, it's not like you're going out, plein air and painting them. I mean, it's like you're you're imagining them in these pastoral scenes, right?

Sandow: [00:23:11] Well, tragically, no, I actually visited all but two. I was going to visit them. I ran out of time because I had a deadline, but I visited all 31 of the 33. And the tragic thing is, they actually are in the really beautiful parts of the country, out in the countryside and the foothills and in valleys. And so it's there. It's not transplanting them into these beautiful things there in these beautiful scenes. It was just sort of painting them where they are, but trying to. Echo, these, you know, these traditional landscape, grandiose tropes of landscape painting. So, yeah, I would visit I would do a trip like I would do a three day trip where I'd drive like in a loop and visit like five prisons in the desert and then come home. And I would visit a prison and go take pictures of it and do sketches of it and maybe go in the parking lot and just see whatever you could see and then come home with this stuff and do the paintings in the studio.

Craig: [00:24:12] I feel like nothing you do is on a small scale. Like, I'm looking, I'm now looking at, you know, in front of me these images of imaginary monuments and these these are etchings that are help me here. They're like four feet by five feet. Is that

Sandow: [00:24:30] More like? Yeah, I think five by seven. And they're getting bigger.

Craig: [00:24:35] I mean, they're just it's enormous in like most people wouldn't dare take on an undertaking of that size. And because I mean, it's so many square inches to like because it's it's a it's a fine, laborious process. Centimeter by centimeter, right? The self-flagellation, you know, is is amazing because it's beautiful work. It's wry. And you know, there's. How did you get into doing printmaking on such a large scale? Because not that many people do, right?

Sandow: [00:25:09] Yeah. Well, this is thank you for asking because this is a really good lead up to the my absolute latest project. But you know, you keep talking about how impressive this amount of physical work that I do. But you know, most of these projects involve other people, you know, making a movie involve like 50 people. Printing involves a lot of people. Mural making involves people. So, you know, I like to collaborate, and when you collaborate, you get more done and more ideas and it becomes more enjoyable. But most of the print projects I've done started when I was working with this printer named Paul Maloney, who when I when he first contacted me to work with him, he was working out of Maui in Hawaii. I did the the Iraq War prints with him out of a place called the Hui Press and Maui. And since then, he moved to San Francisco for many years and we did these imaginary monuments, and he's just recently moved to Portland. His whole studio is in Portland now. And right now we're working on a new one of the series of these monuments. So to back up. I never studied printmaking. I didn't know anything about it. And when he first invited me to come out and work with him, I came up with the idea of doing prints about the war in Iraq and.

Sandow: [00:26:32] The original idea was to do a series of little ones, and then him and my wife just said we should do big giant ones, and they ended up being four by eight foot woodblock prints. And Paul Maloney, I mean, he's this amazing master printer. He came out of Crown Point Press in San Francisco. Then he went to Japan for 10 years, where he learned all about Japanese printmaking. Then he ended up in Hawaii and then San Francisco and now Portland. But he's the amazing guy. He knows how to do anything, and you just go in there and say, I want to do this, and he figures out how to do it, and he always says yes. So at some point, you know, I wanted to do this big etching, and he figured out how to do it using six enormous copper plates in six pieces of paper that would all be then glued together into these six foot tall etchings. And we did. I think we've done four or five of those. We try to do one every two years. And right now, just coming up for my next show, we're working on one that's 10 feet tall and eight feet wide, done on 24 copper plates. So that's the latest thing we're working on.

Craig: [00:27:42] So what is what is the theme of that one going to be? Can you say?

Sandow: [00:27:46]  I did it early in? An image came around early this year and it was came out of this whole Black Lives Matter and this little discussion of American history and who tells it. And so the idea is that it's a monument to the history of the United States from pre-Columbian stays up until now of the significant events where there's no white people in the whole thing. It's just the history of people of color from Colombia to now. And it's really amazing

Craig: [00:28:21] Is is that going to look something along the lines of what we see in like American Procession? Or is it look more like the the imaginary monuments? I mean, is it like we don't I'm trying to remember if we're talking about etching or woodblock at this point,

Sandow: [00:28:36] It's etchings, OK? Copper plate etchings and the images resembles sort of like a grandiose Arc de Triomphe, like a structure that has like scenes all carved in the sides in different boxes and things.

Craig: [00:28:49] So when you do that, how many wind up getting getting printed?

Sandow: [00:28:53] Not many the the big ones we've done, six feet are usually edition of 10. We did this American procession. You mentioned that was a 40 foot long woodblock print that was edition of two. So this one, we haven't decided. They're still working on doing the artist's proof. The first image of it, but I'm imagining it'll be like 10 or less.

Craig: [00:29:14] It's so labor intensive in so many moving pieces that, you know, we say it's an addition of Tim, but each one of them is really its own piece of art. Kind of have to start over from scratch each time. It's not like printing it off of a giant inkjet printer. I mean, there's craftsmanship, you know? You know, with each one, right?

Sandow: [00:29:31] Yeah, they're amazing. Like, I was in Portland maybe a month ago to see them working on the, you know, the early, early test version of it. And each plate is like, you know, two by three feet and it's etched. And then they put the ink on it and they wipe it by hand and then they do a print of it on this Japanese gonnabe paper, and it takes a team of three people to do it, and they try to do two or three or four a day of one plate. And then there's 24 plates. So you add that how many days that's going to take. And then once each is printed, they they glue them all together to make one giant picture.

Craig: [00:30:15] So you're originally from L.A., right?

Sandow: [00:30:17] Yes.

Craig: [00:30:17] But your travels have kind of taken you around the world. Mm hmm. Do you think that worldwide exposure has given you a better filter about the ability to step out of the shoes of an American and kind of observe us as a people group from, you know, the outside looking in? What do you think?

Sandow: [00:30:35] Yeah, I think travel is the most important thing. I love to travel. I grew up in L.A. suburbs and I grew up surfing, and as soon as I got a driver's license, I was driving to Mexico for the weekend to go surfing and and then just going further into Mexico and all the way down the mainland. And next thing, I was in Central America and I've just been traveling all the time. I love surfing, I love to travel. And I ended up dropping out of art school after two years and tried to do a crazy road trip driving from LA to Rio de Janeiro with a friend of mine. We had an old jeep and we made it as far as Central America before it sort of exploded. And we basically took the bus from Belize all through South America to Brazil and took us eight months to get there. And I ended up living. Rio de Janeiro for four years working in a surfboard factory. So I loved living in Brazil, I spent a lot of time in Europe and Portugal and for traveling trips all over.

Craig: [00:31:46] So you don't have any small stories like every every story is really epic in nature, right? I decided to go to Brazil. I decided to take eight months to travel to Brazil. That's that's amazing.

Sandow: [00:31:59] Well, I love Latin America. You know, so many Americans say, you know, they're just astonished, like someone like rides their bike across the America or drives across America. And you're like, OK, you're driving like Boston to San Francisco. Like, how many Starbucks do you need to see? And I'm like, You know, I tell people, especially people in California, you should drive to Mexico City. It's closer than Chicago, and it's way more amazing country and it's cheaper and the food's better. And every town you stop and you're going to see something different. And the people are nice, you know, go south, go.

Craig: [00:32:36] The homogeneity of America is something that I know I'm getting older when I start complaining about how every strip mall in every town looks exactly alike to me, is that the next big thing in terms of exhibiting is that, you know, engraving that we are talking about?

Sandow: [00:32:51] Yeah, it's it's amazing to be finished. It's going to be shown in Portland in a big show up there called Portland Monuments or something is a show going on at the mascot out of Portland. And then it will be shown in my next show in L.A. at 16 Gallery in the spring, and then there'll be more showings of it around.

Craig: [00:33:15] And so if somebody wanted to see more of your work, the website is probably a good place to see. There's just so many images there. What is what's what's your web address? Just in case I don't want to get that wrong,

Sandow: [00:33:28] It's just my name. It's stand out Berkeley. And that's

Craig: [00:33:35] Do you have social media or anything or day to day that people want to keep an eye on you?

Sandow: [00:33:39] Or I try. I'm not that good. I do Instagram under my name a little bit. But the main official way to deal with my work is through Katherine Clark Gallery out of San Francisco or 16 out of L.A. or couple of Del Rio Gallery out of Seattle now.

Craig: [00:33:57] Well, Sandow, I really appreciate you being willing to to take some time out to talk about your work. Your work is amazing. I love it. I feel like I could talk to you for another hour. I used to teach art history, and so as I go through your work, I'm just like, Oh, you know, the death mirror. There's, you know, the raft of the Medusa. There's, you know, I can see all these references and it's not lost on me in your work is as gorgeous. I mean, the craftsmanship really begs people to, you know, to linger and look at it. And so I appreciate, you know what you're doing and I appreciate you taking time out on a Friday to talk to me about this. And so I appreciate your time.

Sandow: [00:34:37] Thank you. It's really it's really nice. You know, I work alone most of the time, and it's really sort of surprising and pleasant to hear that people are out there paying attention.

Craig: [00:34:59] And now the news.

Craig: [00:35:03] After a long and circuitous road, we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for the launching of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. The museum is the passion project for George Lucas, creator of Star Wars and its related cinematic universe. After selling the rights to the franchise to Disney for just over $4 billion back in 2012, Lucas turned his attention to making the dream of the Lucas Museum a reality. The initial collection stemmed from Lucas's personal collection in his love for narrative artwork like that of Norman Rockwell. The museum was originally burdened by an inability to find the right hometown for the project and the lukewarm response from the art world. At one point, it looked like the project was for sure to end up in Chicago. But in the end, the museum is being built in Los Angeles, and over the course of the last decade, the vision for the collection has evolved into something far more diverse. It's thought that Lucas's wife, Mellody Hobson and museum director Sandra Jackson Dumont, are responsible for the expanded vision for the museum, which will be more inclusive of black and Latino art targeting in 2023. Opening the museum has recently acquired works by Frida Kahlo, Robert Scott, Alice Neel and Artemisia Guintoli, as well as works by contemporary artists like Kadir Nelson and CRISELDA Vazquez.

Craig: [00:36:34] The collection also includes significant names in African-American art, including Kerry James Marshall, Carrie Mae Weems and Jacob Lawrence. A new bill before Congress called the Creative Economy Revitalization Act, or Sierra, aims to counter the effects of the COVID pandemic by providing $300 million in grants for workers in the arts. The move has people sentimental about Roosevelt's WPA, which similarly provided sustenance for artists at the height of the Great Depression. It turns out that jobs for arts professionals shrank by 53 percent over the course of the pandemic. In the market is only a recovered about a half of those jobs that were lost. The legislation is backed by a long list of Democrats, as well as a Republican, Rep. Jay Overholt of California, who saw his state's film industry especially hard hit. If approved, the grant making process will be administered by the Department of Labor and the National Endowment for the Arts. After more than 40 years of operation in Los Angeles, Sotheby's will be adding a showroom in Beverly Hills on a street that already claims tenants like Gagosian and Christie's. The new venue is in an updated Nineteen Forties era storefront at three 50 North Camden Drive, which boasts 4300 square feet of flexible gallery space and viewing rooms.

Craig: [00:38:07] The first public exhibition will come Oct. 14, when the site showcases selections from the Macklowe Collection, which will be going to gavel on November 15. The auction is expected to bring total sales approaching $700 million and as a result of a divorce court order mandating the sell as part of liquidating the shared assets of real estate developer Harry Macklowe in his ex-wife, Linda. In addition to being used for exhibiting and showcasing the space promises the flexibility to be used for lectures and other programing as well. That's all the time we have for this week. You've been listening to art since you can find the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. If you've enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe. And while you're there, please rates show and leave a quick review. Your feedback is the key to other folks finding us. If you'd like to see images related to the conversation, read a transcript and find other bonus features. You can go to Canvia Art. And click on the podcast tab if you'd like to reach out to me. You can email me at Craig at Canvia. Art. Thanks for listening.

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