CLINTON HILL — A larger-than-life Biggie Smalls memorial could be coming to Clinton Hill.
The Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum is looking to install a 6-foot bronze sculpture depicting the legendary rapper’s face at Putnam Triangle, according to museum founder and chairman James “JT” Thompson.
The museum, in partnership with Dennis Mathis, CEO of Down Lo Music, has set up a GoFundMe page in order to raise the $35,000 necessary to complete the proposed Biggie Memorial Project, designed by Brooklyn-based artist Tanda Francis.
The money would go toward finishing and mounting the project for an outdoor display, supporting the artist and sending a $10,000 donation to the nonprofit Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation.
Thompson said the piece, if approved by city officials, would become a landmark in the neighborhood where Biggie grew up.
“This statue of Biggie would draw fans from not just New York, but around the country and around the world,” Thompson said. “This art piece would be part of the cultural fabric of the city.”
Biggie was raised just around the corner from Putnam Triangle, at St. James Place and Fulton Street, when that area was considered Bedford-Stuyvesant.
His birthday, May 21, was just proclaimed as “Christopher ‘The Notorious B.I.G.’ Wallace Day” by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
For Francis, who lived just a few doors down from Biggie’s house for 12 years, the sculpture would call attention to the arts scene in the neighborhood and boost local businesses.
“Ideally people will know this is a place where they can meet, take a picture in front of the statue, and just explore the neighborhood,” she said. “This sculpture is a potential landmark for people to spend money in the area, so it seems like something that would be positive for the area.”
Francis said she made the piece last year after working on a similar sculpture of a person's head outside of her Clinton Hill apartment.
“Some people asked if it was Biggie, because why would I do anything that big for someone aside from Biggie since he’s the most notable person in the neighborhood,” Francis explained.
Eventually her husband suggested she work on the Biggie piece, which she completed last year. Most recently it was on display at Brooklyn Arts Fellowship in Sunset Park for a show that closed last week.
BIGGIE is out! front and center at #brooklynartsfellowshilp #210gallery at 210 24th st in #brooklyn opening tonight at 7pm I'm also participating in an artist talk at #cloverartgallery at 3pm where I'll talk about BIGGIE project and other interesting creating stuff #tandafrancis #art #artisttalk #designnoir #curated by @davejones611 #biggiesmalls #biggiememorial #monumnetal #motoriousbig #sculpture #window #windowdisplay #gallery #newyorkartists #brooklynartist #hiphop #africaninspired #head #brooklynartist
The next step for Francis, who has created other pieces for public spaces, would be bringing the sculpture to Putnam Triangle, which is overseen by the Department of Transportation and the Fulton Area Business Alliance.
“It’s very much an ideal location,” Francis said. “I think it’s a possibility.”
The project has yet to be presented to any city officials — including Community Board 2, the Public Design Commission or the City Council, which would all need to sign off the installation — but Thompson said he hopes to start the public approval process this year.
Permanent art installed on Department of Transportation property would be coordinated with the Department of Cultural Affairs and would require a maintenance agreement and endowment, a DOT spokeswoman said.
Thompson said the Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum wants to make the installation permanent at Putnam Triangle, but will consider other locations in Brooklyn if it's not approved for that location.
“The love that he had in that community, and the love that the community had for him, that’s why we want to put it there and not just in the Hall of Fame,” Thompson said.
“We are honored and humbled to celebrate artists like Biggie and their contributions not only to hip hop, but also to the world.”
For more information, visit the Biggie Memorial Project’s GoFundMe page.