Marking the 25th anniversary of the legendary Notorious B.I.G.’s debut release album “Ready To Die,” Optimo recognized the occasion by hosting two events in his hometown of Brooklyn. The “Biggie Inspires” New York contest winners were Hoa Hong and Cinque Smith. A mural unveiling ceremony was followed by a private art exhibit and celebration.
Created by Optimo, “Biggie Inspires” was a one-of-a-kind art contest where more than 170 artists created and submitted art inspired by B.I.G., his music, his style, and his swagger. The culmination of the contest featured the announcement of the winners at an unveiling of Hong’s mural on display in Biggie’s old Brooklyn neighborhood of Bed-Stuy (176 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn).
Hong is an artist and curator based in Seattle, WA whose work has been exhibited in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle. Her paintings emphasize the fine line between abstraction and realism, and celebrates the vibrancy of cultures and communities through the hip-hop icons she admires.
Commenting on the Biggie Inspires contest, Hong said, “Music is a sonic form of art that allows you to see all the beautiful colors in the life we live in. If The Notorious B.I.G was alive today, he would be smoking the biggest blunt or fattest cigar and most importantly, he would continue his legacy of making colorful and influential music. His music is a constant push to my own hustle and drive in my own creative world. In my artwork, I try to honor that legacy.”
The other winning artist, Cinque Smith, also had his work on display for public view in Williamsburg (100 N 10th St, Brooklyn). Smith is from Dayton, OH and is a self-taught artist who has been drawing since the early age of three, inspired by illustration, film and music. His work is a combination of different techniques with a strong emphasis on the human condition, through color texture and symbolism.
All of the contest submissions can be viewed at BiggieInspires.com. A third mural, which was commissioned by Optimo, will be unveiled in Atlanta later this month.
“It was a day of inspiration, and great day to pay tribute to The Notorious B.I.G., a legendary artist who left us way too soon. On behalf of Optimo, it was an honor to host the “Biggie Inspires” art contest to capture his essence on the 25th anniversary of his debut album,” said Michelle Burgstiner, Director of Creative and Consumer Engagement for Swisher International. “Congratulations to all of the artists who created these works of art to a man who continues to inspire us every day. He will always live on through his music, and now these works of art exist to contribute to his legacy and memory.”
Following the mural reveal, the celebration continued with a private event held in Williamsburg at The William Vale Westlight Lounge. Twenty additional pieces of art were commissioned and placed on display at the event with the following artists in attendance: Lawrence “Naturel” Atoigue, Melissa Falconer, Steve Hatala, Laurens J, Michael Moodie, Jon Moody, Chris B. Murray, MURRZ (Mary Damian), and Chuck Style. Additional guests at the event included friends and family of The Notorious B.I.G., Rick Ross, Faith Evans, Lil’ Kim, Voletta Wallace, Christopher Jordan Wallace, T’yanna Wallace, Christian Combs, Joshua Russaw, Damion “DRoc” Butler, James “Lil Cease” Lloyd, Wayne Barrow, Rick Barlowe; Swisher International Executives including Dave Untiedt, Vice President of Consumer Marketing; Cherie Lee, Vice President of Creative and Consumer Engagement; and Michelle Burgstiner, Director of Creative and Consumer Engagement, and more. DJ Enuff was onsite to provide music at the event.
During the event, there was a one-of-a-kind surprise for guests. Optimo presented a 4-D projection-mapped computer-generated video looped on the Williamsburg rooftops below the Westlight Lounge. The visual attraction, by artist Nick Freeman, and directed by Freeman and Charles Nordeen, incorporated elements and pieces from the Biggie Inspires art contest as well as original animations and design. Curated to Biggie’s “Juicy” it played with complex geometry and particles elevating the art and captivating guests.
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