SFJAZZ Center Murals by Sandow Birk & Elyse Pignolet

"Jazz and The Nation", "Jazz and The City",
& "Jazz and The Afterlife"

The SFJAZZ Center’s second floor features three commissioned tiled murals, created by the team of Sandow Birk, a Los Angeles-based artist is whose past work has embraced social themes across a wide spectrum — inner-city violence, graffiti, prisons, skateboarding, and a consideration of the Qur’an as relevant to contemporary life in America; and Elyse Pignolet, an American of Filipino descent who grew up in Oakland, California, who works primarily in ceramics and who often addresses the “permanence and traditions of ceramics with the fleeting and transitory nature of the contemporary world.”

Two of the murals, in public view in the upstairs lobby, combine to form one overall composition - a fictionalized cityscape made up of influential and important jazz venues from across the United States and San Francisco. One, titled “Jazz and the City,” depicts storied San Francisco clubs, including Jimbo’s Bop City, home to all-night jam sessions during the music’s heyday, and the Keystone Korner, last of the city’s iconic jazz rooms. The second, "Jazz and the Nation," blends historical images and references of jazz from its roots in African music and the early days of New Orleans' second line traditions to the jazz styles of St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, New York, the West Coast, and Europe.

As Sandow Birk said, "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."

The third and final mural, "Jazz and the Afterlife,” rests in the Center's second floor green room. It is a parody of religious "Judgment Day" murals with club goers going up to a "heaven" of harps and bagpipes or down to a swinging party in a jazz "hell," where horns blast and jazz fans celebrate.

Created in Pignolet's studio in San Pedro, CA, the ceramic tile murals draw on the extensive global traditions and history of blue and white "azulejo" murals made popular in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. The murals are hand-painted by the artists on handmade ceramic tiles using underglazes. The tiles were then glazed and fired for a permanent, glossy finish resistant to wear and spills.

About The Artists

Sandow Birk

Los Angeles artist Sandow Birk is a well-traveled graduate of the Otis/Parson's Art Institute. 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.

Elyse Pignolet

Born in Oakland, CA, Elyse Pignolet is an American with Filipino heritage, who lives and works in Los Angeles. She lived and studied in Madrid and Barcelona, and took an intensive ceramics tour through Mainland China and Korea in 2007. Pignolet works primarily in ceramics and her work has dealt with numerous social and urban topics.

Jim Goldberg, SFJAZZ Photographer Laureate

The SFJAZZ Photographer Laureate chair was created to further the call and response between photography and jazz, celebrating their mutual search for understanding of self and the musicality of life.

Jim Goldberg, the first ever SFJAZZ Photographer Laureate, is a master artist admired for his innovative use of image and text to tell stories in poetic new ways. A professor at the California College of Art and member of the famed Mangum Photos agency, Goldberg has produced a rich body of work over the last 30 years. His books include Rich and Poor, in which he explores notions of class, power and happiness by juxtaposing images of people in welfare with affluent subjects in elegantly furnished homes. Rich and Poor has often been cited as one of the greatest photo books of the 20th century.

Installed in the SFJAZZ Center lobby is a pigment print of his iconic photograph "Prized Possession"—the same photograph used as the album cover of the SFJAZZ Collective's 2012 album Wonder: The Songs of Stevie Wonder—from his acclaimed Open See collection, which tells the story of refugees, immigrants, and trafficked individuals journeying from their countries of origin to their new homes in Europe. The installation is courtesy of the artist, Robert Mailer Anderson, Stephen Wirtz Gallery, and Pace MacGill Gallery.

Ishmael Reed, SFJAZZ Poet Laureate

The SFJAZZ Poet Laureate chair was created to celebrate the connection between poetry, jazz and spoken word, and to inspire young poets and musicians to further their craft and contribute to the global conversation of art.

Ishmael Reed, the acclaimed poet, playwright and novelist known for his satirical and polemical works about American political culture and social oppression - as well as for the jazz like rhythms of his language - is SFJAZZ's first Poet Laureate. A retired UC Berkeley professor, Reed has published dozens of books, including the novels Mumbo-Jumbo, Reckless Eyeballing, and Juice!, the poetry collection New and Collected Poems, 1964-2007, and the 2010 essay collection Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: The Return of the Nigger Breakers. He also wrote the non-fiction book Oakland Rhapsody, The Secret Soul of An American Downtown, with photographs by Richard Nagler. He currently lives in Oakland.

Ishmael Reed curated the first ever Annual Poetry Festival in June, 2013, presenting many of California's great poets in Joe Henderson Lab. Reed continues this dialogue between word and sound at the 2nd Annual Poetry Festival, April 3-6, 2014, as part of the SFJAZZ Center's Season 2.

Reed's poem "When I Die I Will Go To Jazz" is installed on the north gate of Raise Up Off Me Alley (named to honor jazz legend Hampton Hawes) on Linden Street at the SFJAZZ Center.

> Read "When I Die I Will Go To Jazz" by Ishmael Reed

SFJAZZ Gala 2014 Honoring Herbie Hancock

 

SFJAZZ Gala 2014
Honoring Herbie Hancock

Concert and Ceremony
AfterJam with Charles Bradley
& His Extraordinaires

Friday, May 16, 6:00pm
at SFJAZZ Center, Miner Auditorium

Herbie Hancock

SFJAZZ Gala 2014 Honoring Herbie Hancock

 

SFJAZZ Gala 2014
Honoring Herbie Hancock

Concert and Ceremony
AfterJam with Charles Bradley
& His Extraordinaires

Friday, May 16, 6:00pm
at SFJAZZ Center, Miner Auditorium

Our biggest party!

SFJAZZ Gala 2014 Honoring Herbie Hancock

 

SFJAZZ Gala 2014
Honoring Herbie Hancock

Concert and Ceremony
AfterJam with Charles Bradley
& His Extraordinaires

Friday, May 16, 6:00pm
at SFJAZZ Center, Miner Auditorium

Our biggest party!

SFJAZZ Gala 2014 Honoring Herbie Hancock

 

SFJAZZ Gala 2014
Honoring Herbie Hancock

Concert and Ceremony
AfterJam with Charles Bradley
& His Extraordinaires

Friday, May 16, 6:00pm
at SFJAZZ Center, Miner Auditorium

Our biggest party!

Digital Music Performance in the 21st Century (8 Week Course)

 

Digital Lab
Digital Music Performance
in the 21st Century

Tuesday, March 4, 6:00pm
at SFJAZZ Center, Digital Lab

Digital Music Performance
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