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For the sixth consecutive year, visual artists competed for a chance to have their work shown to critics and buyers at the SCOPE Miami Beach Art Show. As part of the 6th annual BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® Artisan Series, twelve finalists in the competition, which were selected from thousands of online submissions and local galleries across the nation, had the opportunity to display their artwork on Friday, December 4th, at the Nautilus Hotel in Miami at the 6th annual BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® Artisan Series. The series is an annual collaboration with BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® and Russell and Danny Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, which casts its net nationwide in search of the most talented emerging visual artists.

 

The extravaganza was hosted by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, artist Danny Simmons of Rush Philanthropic Arts foundation and co-hosted by actress, Rosario Dawson, who is also serving as a creative mentor for the program. Aron Belka, who was announced as this year’s Grand Finale Winner, will collaborate with Ms. Dawson on a public mural installation in Spring 2016. Belka, a New Orleans native, said,  “I can’t wait to bring my vision to life at my solo exhibit at Scope NYC, and for my future collaboration with Rosario Dawson.”

L’Etage Magazine had the chance to talk Russell Simmons of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. Simmons is Chairman and CEO of Rush Communications, as well as co-founder of the hip-hop music label DefJam, He is also creator of the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm and Argyleculture, along with All Def Digital, an original content channel on YouTube with over a million subscribers.

 

I’ve heard that the Rush Art foundation began with the motto “art saves lives”. Can you go into further detail on the significance of these words to you?

Imagination is everything. Creativity allows people to get out of the struggle, and without that, you are stuck in the struggle. People need to exercise their creative muscles so they can become free and happy. Art promotes presence and the present is the only place where happiness exists. Art gives people the opportunity to turn over a new leaf or to create or imagine a new world. A new world can only come from a present mind, and that is the most important part of a child’s education. The Rush foundation serves 3,000 students every year in its education programs and exhibits works by emerging and community-based artists in its Manhattan (Rush Arts Gallery) and Brooklyn (Corridor Gallery) spaces.

 

Tell me about the Bombay Sapphire and Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation partnership?

Bombay Sapphire has supported us in helping children practice and appreciate art. The artisan series has been an amazing ride. We wish more companies would have the courage to sponsor freedom and creativity. We are deeply appreciative of Bombay Sapphire’s commitment to giving a community what it needs, like art.

 

How in your eyes has hip-hop evolved from its beginning days as an underground, word of mouth scene to becoming accepted as a legitimate art form in pop culture?

The same way jazz, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll evolved. Communities express themselves and need a space and freedom to say things that are not being said. What was the outside mainstream becomes the mainstream and that is what happened to hip-hop as it did for other forms of music. What’s remarkable is hip-hop’s staying power. The poetry is such a strong expression, and poetry and music together is such a powerful combination, that’s it had a great impact.

 

Being the influential mogul the world knows today, what words of wisdom have always stuck with you since your first endeavors?

Work hard and don’t quit!

 

The BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® ARTISAN SERIES fosters the talents of emerging artists through a nationwide search for the best up-and-coming names in visual arts. Since its 2010 inception, the Series has received more than 20,000 submissions from inspired artists across the country and has precipitated the sale of artwork totaling more than $260,000. In 2012, Chicago finalist Hebru Brantley sold his final piece to Jay-Z for $20,000 in Miami.  Most recently, 2014 National Winner Kristine Mays’ work was purchased by Star Wars film director George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson at the Artisan Series solo exhibit at SCOPE NYC – a testament to the exceptional caliber of talent receiving exposure from this annual multicultural arts competition.

The VIP guest list at the Artisan Series Finale included Solange Knowles and renowned stylist Ty Hunter; Recording Artists: Miguel and Teyana Taylor; Record Producer, Jermaine Dupri; supermodels: Shaun Ross, Garrett Neff, and Lady Victoria Hervey.  All attendees were treated to exclusive artfully crafted BOMBAY SAPPHIRE ® cocktails, Artisan Hors d’Oeuvres and music by DJ Kitty Cash.

 

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IMG_9478The BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® ARTISAN SERIES fosters the talents of emerging artists through a nationwide search for the best up-and-coming names in visual arts. Since its 2010 inception, the Series has received more than 20,000 submissions from inspired artists across the country and has precipitated the sale of artwork totaling more than $260,000. In 2012, Chicago finalist Hebru Brantley sold his final piece to Jay-Z for $20,000 in Miami.  Most recently, 2014 National Winner Kristine Mays’ work was purchased by Star Wars film director George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson at the Artisan Series solo exhibit at SCOPE NYC – a testament to the exceptional caliber of talent receiving exposure from this annual multicultural arts competition.

The VIP guest list at the Artisan Series Finale included Solange Knowles and renowned stylist Ty Hunter; Recording Artists: Miguel and Teyana Taylor; Record Producer, Jermaine Dupri; supermodels: Shaun Ross, Garrett Neff, and Lady Victoria Hervey.  All attendees were treated to exclusive artfully crafted BOMBAY SAPPHIRE ® cocktails, Artisan Hors d’Oeuvres and music by DJ Kitty Cash.

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