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Painting up a storm

March 20, 2008 |  3:10 pm

BirkArtist Sandow Birk's proposed mural for the LAPD's Hollenbeck police station has angered and surprised many residents. Scenes of unleashed dogs and a man apparently being questioned by cops "paints a dark picture" of the neighborhood, an LAPD commander told Hector Becerra. But if people were expecting  a cheery, chamber-of-commerce piece from Birk, what were they thinking? asks the The District Weekly.

"What is surprising, as Birk himself points out, is that he was drafted by the LAPD to craft this piece in the first place — Birk’s works have a notoriously dim view of the city’s law enforcement."

The 45-year-old artist's recent show at Cal State Long Beach, "The Depravities of War," features irreverent images of the Iraq war based on compositions inspired by 17th century French etchings. It's a common approach for Birk, "who has been combining hard-hitting social and political commentary with cheeky art historical references since the early '90s," according to a Times review of the show.

Juangomez Samples of Birk's work on his website include paintings of George Bush visiting Los Angeles during the 1992 riots, former LAPD officer Rafael Perez (of Rampart scandal fame) enjoying a night at the Short Stop bar, and modern takes on religious works.

"I said the LAPD was one of the most dubious of the city branches," Birk  told the Times. "I was quite honest about it. I was surprised that I was chosen."

-- Jesus Sanchez

Top Photo: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times

Bottom photo: Courtesy of Kaplin Gallery