Russell Simmons Hosts Art For Life Benefit at His East Hampton Estate

This weekend, Russell Simmons hosted the annual Art For Life benefit at his East Hampton estate. Launched in 2000, ART FOR LIFE East Hampton is Rush Philanthropic’s primary fundraising outreach to friends and supporters. Funds raised through ART FOR LIFE provide support for many projects throughout the year dedicated to reaching out to New York City youth through the arts. The 2011 ART FOR LIFE East Hampton takes on an enchanting theme this year, The Zen of Giving.

The evening celebrated the creative energy of New York City youth and honored exemplary individuals such as recording artist Mary J. Blige, actor/filmmaker Edward Norton, OBE Founder & Chief Creative Officer Jimmy Choo Tamara Mellon, President of JPMorgan Chase Foundation Kimberly B. Davis and world renowned nutritionist and author Oz Garcia for their career achievements and philanthropic works. The star-studded fundraising event was hosted by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and The View and Rush Kids Auctioneer Star Jones and featured a special performance by Grammy award-winning artist Jennifer Hudson. This year’s Featured Artist is Kara Walker. Gwyneth Paltrow and Tamara Mellon are serving as Honorary Chairs.  Event Chairs include LaLa Anthony, Marc J. Leder, Esther Silver-Parker, Uma Thurman and Patricia Velasquez.  Lucille Blair and Kehinde Wiley will also serve as Art Auction Chairs. Shamin Abas, Angella Forbes, and Natasha Silver will serve as the Luxury Auction Chairs.

This year’s art auction featured Works on Paper from some of the art world’s most celebrated names: Donald Baechler, Sanford Biggers, Ross Bleckner, John Chamberlain, Chuck Close, Eric Fischl, April Gornik, Jenny Holzer, Brice Marden, Victor Matthews, Julie Mehretu, Toyin Odutola, Yoko Ono, David Salle, Danny Simmons, Peter Soriano, Peter Tunney, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, and Terry Winters. Exclusive auction lots from celebrities including Tina Brown, Willie Geist, Maxwell, Tracy Morgan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Anna Wintour have been  available on since July 20th

Tables for the event started at $15,000. Proceeds from the annual gala benefit the Foundation’s signature arts education and gallery programs, which directly serve 2,300 students each year. Founded in 1995 by brothers Russell, Danny and Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation is dedicated to providing inner-city youth with significant exposure and access to the arts, as well as providing exhibition opportunities to under-represented artists and artists of color. For more information, visit

In addition, Bombay Sapphire joined forces with Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation to launch the second annual Artisan Series, a national competition to provide exposure for emerging artists from around the country. The 20 selected visual artists will exhibit their works during Art Basel Miami 2011.

“The BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series has established itself as a platform for emerging artists who seek to shape our contemporary cultural landscape—artists who look to defy boundaries with the power of their imagination,” says Russell Simmons, Chairman of and co-founder of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. “With the extraordinary success of last year’s program, I am excited to see what emerges from this year’s roster of talent.”

This year, submitted work will be reviewed by the program’s esteemed panel of judges, including Rush Philanthropic Vice Chairman, Co-Founder and artist Danny Simmons, program curator Andre Guichard and other guest curators and museum heads from around the country, including famed Miami-based artist Miguel Paredes. “The BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series offers opportunities for artists in all stages of their careers to shine. When one enters this contest the work is judged on merit alone.  It is a wonderful thing to step out onto a level playing field,” says Danny Simmons. “I for one enjoy discovering the new and awesome talent that is represented. The national exposure this contest brings is a great career boost for these artists.”

BOMBAY SAPPHIRE brand director Giles Woodyer adds, “BOMBAY SAPPHIRE has a long history of commitment to the arts and creative community.  It gives us such pleasure to be able to help provide a platform for new talent to gain the recognition that they deserve.  We were deeply touched by the response to the first full year partnership with Rush Philanthropic and we are committed to building a lasting relationship.”

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