His art has portrayed the history of jazz, America’s culture of violence and the depravities of war.
It was the last theme — in particular side-by-side images of an American soldier and a suicide bomber titled “Hero” and “Hero 2” — that has put a target on Sandow Birk’scommission to create a monumental mural on the West Los Angeles land dedicated to veterans of America’s wars.
Aroused by artistic expression they found disrespectful, veterans groups are demanding that Birk be replaced with an artist who has served in the military and will produce a mural on veteran themes for the project to adorn the Metro station under construction on the VA campus.
“When people step off the train, they should look up and see a mural that tells the 135-year history of the soldier home property,” said Rob Reynolds of Amvets Post 2. “It’s very special land. Veterans from every conflict since the Civil War have lived there.”
Birk, known for lively and richly-detailed large-scale mosaics of blue and white tiles, was one of 17 artists selected by Metro last spring to create works at four Westside stations on the Purple Line Extension. His work will cover 11-foot by 156-foot wall in the concourse level of the VA station. Previews of his design show a panoramic view of Los Angeles from prehistory to the present.