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The USA TODAY Network has partnered with legendary artist Peter Tunney to create two original paintings that we’ve turned into animated NFTs to benefit charity. All proceeds will equally benefit The Sunny Center to help individuals who have suffered the injustice of wrongful conviction and the Gannett Foundation which supports community-building initiatives across the country.
Don’t know what an NFT is? Go here to find out
Tunney is known for his innovative mixed-media use and work that evokes optimism and hope with simple yet powerful truths. His pieces can be seen from the streets of New York City, where dozens of billboards have lit up the skyline for over a decade, down to Miami’s Wynwood Walls, where he pioneered the famed colorful urban-art display. His work is collected widely throughout the world by serious art collectors and well-known celebrities.
Tunney used original pages from USA TODAY and our network of more than 250 local newspapers to create intricate and mesmerizing collages as the base for these dynamic paintings and NFTs. “Grattitude,” which is spelled with two t’s, as in the inseparable concept of “attitude,” is a limited run NFT on sale now for just $250 while they last. “LIBERTY” is a fiery tribute to the wrongfully incarcerated. The painting and singular NFT will be auctioned to the highest bidder. The auction opens Monday, Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. ET and ends on Wednesday, December 1 at 8 p.m. ET. The bidding starts at $50,000. Gannett will be offsetting the NFT carbon footprint with carbon credits.
This is an opportunity not just to own one-of-a-kind, cutting-edge, legacy art, but to right injustice and strengthen communities – and use art to help make the world a better place.
Artist Peter Tunney discusses two pieces of art that will be sold to raise money and awareness for issues surrounding wrongful incarceration.
Sam Navaro, Special to USA TODAY
Iconic artist Peter Tunney advocates for the wrongfully incarcerated
World-renowned Neo-pop artist Peter Tunney began his journey in 1987, when he decided on a whim to re-brand himself from an investment banker. He says he told friends he was “going to be an arist now,” with no absolutely no plans, “for no apparent reason.” He became known for his signature style, where he takes brightly colored words or short quotes he paints over emotionally stimulating images from newspapers, magazines and books tend to evoke optimism and hope with simple, yet powerful truths.
As animated and passionate as he is about art, Tunney is even more so when talking about the people who around 15 years ago inspired him to get involved with the issue of wrongful incarceration.
“I was so humbled, I was so stunned,” he said of learning about one young mother who was sentenced to death for the 1976 shooting deaths of a Florida Highway Patrol officer and his friend in Broward County, Florida. “You were on death row? You? And now you’re here and you’re the most grateful person in the world?”
That woman, Sonja “Sunny” Jacobs, was released after spending 17 years behind bars, and went on to run The Sunny Center, where exonerees can go to heal their souls after suffering the trauma of wrongful conviction and incarceration, Tunney said.
“She’s got every reason to be pissed off and she’s not,” Tunney said. “When these guys tell their stories, your problems evaporate.”
Tunney is dedicating his portion of the proceeds from his latest art collaboration with the USA TODAY Network to The Sunny Center, creating the project out of about 700 articles from some of the hundreds of Gannett papers nationwide. Each touches on the issue of wrongful incarceration or the concepts of liberty or gratitude.