Adam Yauch and David Murray in the Jefferson Memorial parking lot. Copyright ©Chris Murray. All Rights Reserved.
On a beautiful spring day in May of 1994 I received a call at Govinda Gallery out of the blue. The caller explained that they were looking for a Tibetan urn for a ritual involving a sand painting being painted at the Smithsonian’s Freer/Sackler gallery by Tibetan monks. The artists sweep up their mystical sand paintings when they are finished and put the contents in a ritual vessel and then empty them into a sacred body of water. The caller also told me that Adam Yauch was with the monks. In 1994 when the Beastie Boys co-headlined the Lollapalooza festival Adam brought a group of Tibetan monks on the tour for two months. Adam was a Tibetan activist and not long after organized the Tibetan Freedom Concerts.
I just happened to have a collection of Tibetan ritual and domestic objects… urns, bowls, and other beautiful vessels from the Himalayas. I presented an exhibition in the fall of 1986 at Govinda Gallery called Ritual and Domestic Objects of Nepal, and my collection came from that exhibition. Ian Alsop curated that exhibition.
The caller was very excited to hear that I had a Tibetan urn and that I was happy to assist in the ritual. I selected one of the best of them and invited my twelve year old son David, a fan of the Beastie Boys, to join me.
Tibetan 18th century bronze urn used for the sacred sand painting ritual. Copyright ©Vivienne Foster. All Rights Reserved.
We drove to the Freer/Sackler gallery and enjoyed watching the completion of a most amazing and intricate sand painting. I presented the urn to the Tibetan monks which they soon filled with the sand that had temporarily manifested a Tibetan sacred diagram. Adam Yauch was at the sand painting ceremony and greeted David and myself. Adam and the monks were looking for an appropriate body of water to empty the contents of the urn… in the Himalayas it would typically be emptied in a sacred river or lake. As we were in Washington I recommended to Adam and the monks the Tidal Basin where the Jefferson Memorial is situated, certainly a “sacred place” in Washington’s geography. Adam and the monks enjoyed David’s company and invited us both to join the ritual. Adam hopped in my VW vanogan and with David and the urn we left for the Jefferson Memorial with the monks following in other vehicles.
David Murray holding the urn containing the sand painting with Tibetan monks and Adam Yauch at the Tidal Basin. Copyright ©Chris Murray. All Rights Reserved.
David and the monks after the sand painting was emptied into the Tidal Basin. Copyright ©Chris Murray. All Rights Reserved.
After the ceremony at the Jefferson Memorial, Adam invited David and me to attend a special afternoon concert at WUST Radio Music Hall on 9th and V Street, the current location of the 9:30 Club. The concert began with Washington, DC’s own Dischord Records band Slant 6, followed by a traditional musical performance by the Tibetan monks, and then a brilliant set by Beastie Boys. David Murray recently recalled it as “an explosive show”. David and I were happily situated on the stage just to the side. I had an opportunity to introduce myself to my friend Donovan’s daughter Ione Skye, who was also on stage and was married to Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz.
Adam Horovitz performing at WUST Radio Music Hall after the Tibetan sand painting ritual. Copyright ©Chris Murray. All Rights Reserved.
Rhondalini, monks, David Murray, and Heidi Snellman enjoying the concert from the side of the stage. Copyright ©Chris Murray. All Rights Reserved.
Beastie Boys rockin’ out. Copyright ©Chris Murray. All Rights Reserved.
Tibetan monk and David embracing after the concert. Copyright ©Chris Murray. All Rights Reserved.
David Murray outside WUST Radio Music Hall. Copyright ©Chris Murray. All Rights Reserved.
It was a wonderful time with Adam and the monks, David, and other friends. David went on to become gallery manager at Govinda Gallery for a period of three years. He is now married and happily raising his two beautiful children Kyle and “Coco” Rose with his wife Ashley. We loved our day with Adam and the Tibetan monks and will never forget it.
Govinda Gallery has exhibited photographs of the Beastie Boys in a number of exhibitions. Here are a few from three of my favorite photographers, Danny Clinch, Mark Seliger, and Jonathan Mannion.
Beastie Boys Adam Yauch, Mike Diamond, and Adam Horovitz. Copyright ©Danny Clinch. All Rights Reserved.
Beastie Boys. Copyright ©Mark Seliger. All Rights Reserved.
Adam Yauch. Copyright ©Jonathan Mannion. All Rights Reserved.