Created and Sold by Sandow Birk + Elyse Pignolet

Sandow Birk + Elyse Pignolet
Murals by Sandow Birk + Elyse Pignolet seen at SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco - Jazz and the Nation, Jazz and the City, Jazz and the Afterlife

Jazz and the Nation, Jazz and the City, Jazz and the Afterlife

Item details

SFJAZZ Center’s lobby features (2013), three commissioned tiled murals, created by Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet, an L.A.-based artist team. Birk’s past work has embraced social themes across a wide spectrum: inner-city violence; graffiti; prisons; skateboarding; a consideration of the Qur’an as relevant to contemporary life in America.

Birk collaborated on the project with Elyse Pignolet, an American of Filipino descent who grew up in Oakland and works primarily in ceramics, often addressing the “permanence and traditions of ceramics with the fleeting and transitory nature of the contemporary world.

The murals were fabricated in Elyse’s studio in San Pedro, California. “Since the history and scope of jazz is enormous and couldn’t be contained in one mural, we have tried to depict places where jazz happened, to be located in the Center where jazz will be happening now, according to Birk.

The two murals in the Center’s second-floor lobby, “Jazz and the Nation” and “Jazz and the City”, combine to form one long skyline featuring famous jazz venues, clubs, theaters, ballrooms, and scenes from the history of jazz in the U.S. and in San Francisco.

The third mural, “Jazz and the Afterlife,” fills the entire wall of the Green Room, where musicians gather before going onstage. It is a riff on the traditional “judgement day” frescoes, in which patrons are admitted to the afterlife past a stern bouncer to discover their fate off the clipboard of policemen, who direct them up to a boring heaven or down to the raging club of hell.

The artists are represented by the Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco.

Context & Credits

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Sandow Birk + Elyse Pignolet

Meet the Creator

Los Angeles artist Sandow Birk is a well-traveled graduate of the Otis/Parson's Art Institute. Frequently developed as expansive, multi-media projects, his works have dealt with contemporary life in its entirety. With an emphasis on social issues, frequent themes of his past work have included inner city violence, graffiti, political issues, travel, war, and prisons, as well as surfing and skateboarding. He was a recipient of an NEA International Travel Grant to Mexico City in 1995 to study mural painting, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996, and a Fulbright Fellowship for painting to Rio de Janeiro for 1997. In 1999 he was awarded a Getty Fellowship for painting, followed by a City of Los Angeles (COLA) Fellowship in 2001. In 2007 he was an artist in residence at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, and at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2008. His most recent project involves a consideration of the Qur’an as relevant to contemporary life in America.

Birk and his wife, practicing artist Elyse Pignolet, often produce works together, including a series titled “The 99 Names of God.” In 2012, SFJAZZ Theater (San Francisco, California) commissioned American Idioms, a series of murals by Birk and Pignolet.

Sandow is represented by the Koplin del Rio Gallery in Los Angeles, Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco, and P.P.O.W. Gallery in New York City.

Born: 1962, Detroit, Michigan, United States"

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