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Buy the 'Law & Order: The First Year' DVD box set (1990-91).


Feel Arty, Punk?: So, you've won this round, Brandon Bird. But my day will come. And until then, I'll stand here across from your exhibit and stare at you.

Unnatural 'Law'

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. This local art exhibit riffs on both of them.

By Christina Waters

Conceptual art activist/entrepreneur Brandon Bird is at it again. Dizzy with acclaim for his homage to cult film star Edward Norton (remember the first rule of Fight Club?), Bird has hatched yet another gonzo exploration into video/neodada art making, entitled "Law & Order: Artistic Intent," based on the popular TV series (you got it) Law & Order.

"I got the idea after watching five hours of Law & Order one night," Bird admits with neither shame nor irony. "I think it's a good theme because it's not necessarily social or political in nature, so there can be work that has specific commentary, or work that's more about the individual's artistic process and sensibility. Or work that's just strange."

And the operant word here is strange. "After all Law & Order has done for us, I feel it's the least I can do for Law & Order.

Bird feels deeply about the ability of popular culture to inspire--hell, even overthrow--aesthetics. In fact, Bird is obsessed with cultural archetypes lurking thematically on the margins of the mainstream--cops, thugs, detectives, hit men, bad actors, danger of all kinds pushed to some media-wise halfway house of serial storytelling--that kind of thing. An avowed "pop culture junkie," Bird managed to graduate from UCSC while simultaneously staying up late cloning such mixed metaphors as Bea Arthur wrestling dinosaurs and Michael Landon in existential crisis over the death of a squid.

No sacred cow is safe from this wild-man conceptualist. Bird has hustled Norton Defiant T-shirts online and sold illustrations of Seinfeld to the Las Vegas Weekly. Retro right down to his Jack Webb paraphernalia, Bird is an only-in-Santa-Cruz impresario whose ability to manipulate the media could give lessons to Madonna and Geraldo. Still in recovery from his childhood in Sacramento, Bird has vowed to use his artistic chutzpah to "spread the light of truth and freedom across a nation of bitter and oppressed souls." Whew!

So here's the deal. The "Law & Order" art opening happens from 2-5pm on Saturday, May 24. The work of between 30 and 40 artists from around the country--including a video art collective from Canada--will be on display at the appropriately anonymous space at 931 Pacific Ave.

"Some artists are current UCSC students or recent graduates," Bird explains. "Others are professionals with no ties to Santa Cruz who learned about "L&A" from the internet," Bird says. The exhibition space lacks an actual name, "but it's between the Blue Lagoon and Streetlight Records--look for the John Tesh painting."

The show is free and there will be light refreshments such as homemade Law & Order cookies, Bird promises. It will be up through May 30, and "the space should be open from noon to 6 each day that week." If it isn't, you can always call the cops.

Law & Order: Artistic Intent. Runs May 24-May 30, noon-6pm, at 931 Pacific Ave. Free opening reception, Saturday, May 24, 2-5pm. For full details, tidbits of past Brandon Bird projects and other lash-licking eye candy, dial www.brandonbird.com.

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From the May 21-28, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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