Art Brokerage: Sandow Birk American Artist: b. 1962. Sandow Birk (born 1962 in Detroit, raised in Southern California) is an American visual artist from Los Angeles, whose work deals mainly with contemporary American culture. Seven books have been published on his works and he has made two films. With an emphasis on social issues, his frequent themes have included inner city violence, graffiti, various political issues, travel, prisons, surfing and skateboarding. His projects are often elaborate and epic in scale, including a series on "The Leading Causes of Death in America" and the invasion and the second war in Iraq. Most recently he has completed an entirely hand-made illuminated manuscript version of the Holy Qur'an, transcribing the entire English language text by hand in a personalized font based on graffiti, and illuminating the pages with scenes of contemporary American life. In 2000, Birk exhibited an epic, pseudo-historical series entitled "In Smog and Thunder”, describing a "Great War of the Californias" in which Los Angeles and San Francisco wage all-out war for control of California, at the Laguna Art Museum. The series imagined an epic civil war between Los Angeles ("Smog Town") and San Francisco ("Fog Town"), and included some 200 drawings, maps, installations, models, and paintings with such titles as "The Great Battle of Los Angeles". A book was published on the project, "In Smog and Thunder", and a faux documentary film about the war was made with the same name and directed by Sean Meredith, with voice over work by Paul Zaloom. His series of idyllic landscape paintings of every one of California's 33 state prisons was exhibited at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum in 2001. A book has been published on the project, entitled Incarcerated: Visions of California in the 21st Century. In 2002, Birk expanded this project by depicting all of New York State's maximum security prisons in the style of Hudson River School artists from the 19th century. The project was exhibited in New York at Debs and Co. Gallery and works from the series are included in the collection of the New York Historical Society.