Tupac’s Letter Up for Sale

A black-and-white photograph of Tupac Shakur.

Image: Tupac Shakur | Flickr

An emotional letter penned by the late rapper Tupac Shakur is going up for sale by autograph auctioneer Moments in Time. The letter, four pages written by Shakur while incarcerated at New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility in 1995, will be up for auction for $225,000. The letter is written to Nina Bhadreshwar, editor at Uncut magazine and an employee at Shakur’s record label, Death Row Records.

“I am not granting this information to any other publication, not even Time & Rolling Stone so please represent it as it is layed,” Shakur wrote to Bhadreshwar. “I trust u.” The rest of the letter offers advice to America’s young black men as well as meditations about “Thug Life,” the phrase tattooed across his chest, and what it really meant—and if it provided a life worth living.

Shakur wrote the letter while imprisoned for sexual assault of a fan. “A Boss Playa is a thinker, a leader, a builder, a moneymaker, a souljah, a teacher and most of all a Man!” he writes. By this time, he had already been arrested 6 times since 1993 and survived a shootout in which he was shot 5 times.

Shakur was shot and killed leaving a boxing match in 1996.

This is not the first time Tupac’s personal literature has gone up for sale. In March of this year, some of his never-before-seen writings from the same prison sentence. Handwritten letters and pictures sold for $59,625 at a Bonhams auction, more than the $42,000 estimate.

Desiree Smith, one of Shakur’s closest friends, received many of the letters, which included plans to divorce his wife, Keisha Morris. In another, he authorized David Kenner, lawyer for Death Row Records, to negotiate on his behalf.

The highest-fetching letter from that collection sold for $15,000 over the original estimate.

View the listing for Shakur’s letter here.

Posted in auction, moments in time, tupac shakur | Tagged | Leave a comment

What Do Biggie and the Met Have in Common?

A hand rests over a turn table.

Image: Shutterstock

If you’ve ever found the quiet experience of walking through New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art lackluster, this may interest you: you can now take a virtual tour of the museum with a number of hip-hop artists. A new endeavor called the Hip-Hop Project is being implemented at the Met that allows visitors to go through the museum with narration from hip-hop artists.

The names of artists, including Queen Latifah, Kendrick Lamar, and Nas, function as keywords on the site. Lyrics from songs that play help you find art with the same keywords, linking the music to pieces of art, bringing new light and meaning to each.

This innovative project comes from Regina Flores Mir, who hoped to encourage visitors to explore both art and the rap genre. If a visitor chooses Missy Elliot as their tour guide, “The Rain” plays, and different pieces of art come up for the song’s keywords: “super,” “fly,” “stand.” It’s a very cool and immersive project that could bring a younger audience to the museum.

Flores Mir said that a large component of her project was conducting an ethnographic research study to decide which rappers and which songs to include. She asked participants about their favorite rappers and who they believe have been the most influential rappers of all time, data she used to determine a final list of 13 artists.

She says she came up with the idea while interning at the Met, where she was inspired by a group of students she knew from a housing project in Jamaica, Queens, who had never been to the museum, despite living in close proximity to it. By linking hip-hop with classical art, the project makes one more accessible to the other.

She hopes that the project will expand to offer more than just one song by each artist to viewers. Each artist provides a different and unique viewing experience and offers new meaning to each piece.

Posted in music, NYC, Queens | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sotheby’s Auctions John Lennon’s Detention Sheets

If you’ve ever wanted to own personal items of your favorite celebrities, Sotheby’s Auction House might have the thing for you: John Lennon’s detention sheets, because apparently they expect people to pay a lot of money for these. The book of detention sheets documents the 29 times Lennon was sent to detention at Quarry Bank High School between September 9th, 1955 and July 11th, 1956. The book is estimated to sell for about $4,000.

The book’s entries come from six different teachers over the course of the year documented, noting Lennon’s “rebellious nature” and “irreverence for authority.” Lennon, 15 at the time, is described as a “nuisance in class” and often did not have homework completed. Occasionally, he received detention for failing to show up for detention.

Supposedly, the book was rescued from a bonfire at the high school in the 1970s. “During one summer holidays a member of staff had been instructed to clear out a storage room and to burn all the redundant old books. He spotted the name “Lennon” at the top of some of the pages in one and tore out the pages he found. Apparently a number of the pages he saved were lost or destroyed in an accident at a later date, and this is one of a few to survive,” says the Sotheby’s site.

The book will sell at Sotheby’s “Rock and Pop” sale on September 29th in London. Other items in the sale include Bob Dylan’s typed lyrics to “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” a signed managerial contract between The Beatles and Brian Epstein from 1962 (estimated to sell for upwards of $500,000), and a handwritten copy of “Ambitionz as a Ridah” from Tupac Shakur.

There will be plenty more Beatles items at the auction, including clothing and signed records and manuscripts. Items from David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton will also be up for grabs.

Posted in art, music | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Governor’s Island Art Fair

An aerial view of Governor's Island and Manhattan.

Image: Aerial view of Governor’s Island | Shutterstock

September 5th opens the annual Governor’s Island Art Fair, which exists to highlight works by newly discovered or emerging artists from around the world. It will be open every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month.

The fair, which is in its 8th year, has expanded out of its traditional site in the historic Colonel’s Row, once the homes of military officers in the 19th and early 20th century, to also include the Fort Jay magazine, six huge brick chambers underneath the adjacent Fort Jay. Between the two sites, a plethora of outdoor installations will create a pathway of art from one to the other for visitors to enjoy.

Devotees of any kind of art medium will find something to their taste here. The fair includes over 100 artists and several independent galleries. Artists include Rachel Rampleman, whose work lies somewhere between time-based installation and experimental video; Megan Suttles and her mixed media installations about anxiety; and Chin-Lung Chaung with interactive exhibits that impose surreality on their audience-participants.

Each exhibiting artist is given a full room or outdoor space in which to install their work, to encourage them to fully express their creative instincts without having to worry about being overshadowed or clashed.

Featured artists are selected by a rigorous review process. The leadership of the fair, non-profit organization 4heads, had to cull more than a thousand submissions to select the favored few. But once chosen, the lucky artists benefit from 4head’s ‘hands-off’ policy, having near-complete control over their assigned spaces. They are encouraged but not required to engage with the historic narratives of the Island.

Governor’s Island Art Fair is only a 10-minute ferry ride from Manhattan but provides a sense of gentle isolation and peace. The ferry is free until noon each day and only $2 per round-trip after. Admission to the GIAF is free. Hours for the fair are Saturday and Sunday through September, 11am – 6pm.

Posted in art, Manhattan, NYC | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pierre Huyghe Takes Over the Met’s Roof Garden

Pierre Huyghe

Image: Pierre Huyghe | PBS

Stone and water are the obvious conjoined themes of Pierre Huyghe’s untitled takeover of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Roof Garden this summer.

At first glance, it looks like disarray. Tiles all over the rooftop have been pried up, revealing dirt and puddles of rainwater. But a moment’s thought tells any viewer that dirt there, inside the architecture of the building, is deliberate, and the rainwater part of the purpose.

Between the uprooted paving tiles are elements of interested. A boulder of Manhattan Schist lurks, the same material bearing the weight of most of the city’s famous skyscrapers. In a blue-tinted glass tank of water, another boulder, this one of cooled lava, improbably floats, its upper curve jutting through the glass. Below the floating boulder a mound of sand mirrors its curve, and the tank is populated by two prehistoric species: tiny lampreys and bright orange tadpole shrimp.

Like the floating rock and sunken sand, the tank itself makes a sharp metaphor with its contents. Periodically, computer-controlled liquid inside the panes of glass turns opaque white. Technology so advanced as to be invisible set in direct juxtaposition with species of life thought not to have evolved in millions of years.

So while the work can be described as New York Times reviewer Ken Johnson did as “an intriguing but dry, cerebrally puzzling and disconnected affair,” it is a study of contrasts. Water and stone. Artifice and nature. Time and decay. In the instance of that last description, Huyghe (pronounced hweeg) meant that the water pooled in the rectangular boxes of dirt under the removed paving tiles seem to have leaked from the aquarium, but it is actually circulating in an entirely separate system. Too, any dirt, dust, and flakes that came off the boulder of Manhattan schist in removal and transit have been left piled around the boulder.

The Roof Garden Commission: Pierre Huyghe runs through November 1st, 2015.

Posted in art | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Jumpin Comes to NYC

People cross a busy NYC street.

Image: Shutterstock

Pearlfisher, the London-based creative agency (read: marketing and branding firm), calls its traveling “grown up” ball bit an art installation. That’s one of the beauties of art as a label – if you say a thing is art, who’s to say it’s not? But how many of the lucky ticket holders to the exhibit’s month-long run in New York City are going there to “experience the transformative power of play,” and how many are just going to swim through the 81,000 white balls, just below the surface, humming the Jaws theme loudly?

Beginning in London last year, the Jumpin installation enjoyed viral success, with over 15,000 requests for bookings all over the world. New York is its first American visitation, opening right in Pearlfisher’s own new SoHo office building.

Mike Branson, founding partner and CEO of the company, hopes it will inspire companies in all manner of fields to use more creative, playful techniques to inspire their employees.

Jumpin, whether art installation or genius viral marketing stunt, is open from August 21 to September 21 to people 11 and over. While tickets are free with encouraged donation, the NYC visitation is completely sold out for its entire duration at this time. However, increased public interest has spawned rumors of a second installation to be announced soon.

Posted in art, NYC | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Against the Run

An aerial view of Central Park.

Image: Shutterstock

New York City may be the “city that never sleeps,” but it is definitely a city that runs on its clocks. Rush hour, closing time, first-second-third shifts: everyone has a schedule, and time is always rushing by. The city is even centered around Times Square.

“We like to keep it moving – this is New York,” said Public Art Fund director Nicholas Baume in a phone interview about one of the rushing city’s newest art installations, Against the Run in Central Park.

A passerby in a hurry to beat their own clock might not even notice the truth of the piece. It’s strikingly simple – Just a black-painted clock with a big white face, standing at the edge of Central Park on Doris C. Freedman Plaza. But if they glance up to check the time, they’ll be forced to take a second look. And probably a third.

The red second hand will stand still, always pointed directly up. The minute and hour hands will move in their normal directions. And the face of the clock will rotate counter-clockwise. And amidst all of this, the clock will always tell the correct time.

It’s hard to visualize from the page, and bound to be a bit confusing in person, but that is what the artist, Polish-born Alicja Kwade, likes to see. She enjoys creating works that appear not to work while still functioning exactly as they need to, creating confusion by defying convention that is, after all, entirely arbitrary.

Against the Run will be on view in Central Park from September 10th 2015 through February 14 2016. It is Kwade’s first solo public art commission. Her work was previously included in the Public Art Fund’s 2013 group show at City Hall Park, “Lightness of Being.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment