DJ D-Nice, Russell Simmons

*Russell and Danny Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation is dedicated to providing underserved urban youth with significant exposure and access to the arts, and to offering exhibition opportunities for underrepresented artists and artists of color.

Last year, the Foundation joined forces with Bombay Sapphire and Mark Ecko’s Complex magazine to create the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series to further “foster creativity and promote artistic expression,” according to Russell Simmons, president and co-founder, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.

The partnership was launched last year with a nationwide search for the next great talents in multi-media art and photography which took place from September through November 2010 in cities including Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Washington DC, Houston, Detroit and New York City.

Andre Guichard, Jorge Cavalier (winner), Russell Simmons, Stan Squirewell (winner), Danny Simmons

Over 2,000 submissions were received from artists around the country hoping to be the next big name in both urban photography and multi-media art.  All submissions were judged by a panel that included Ecko, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation’s vice chairman, co-founder and artist Danny Simmons, along with curatorial staff from the Foundation, and top curators from around the country.

On Saturday, December 4, 2010, the grand finale winners of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series took place at Miami’s Paris Theater that was attended by Hip Hop Royalty including Marc Ecko, Russell Simmons and Danny Simmons, to support the artist hopefuls and announce the winners.  As invitees sipped signature Bombay Sapphire cocktails, DJ D-Nice provided a mellow soundtrack for everyone to view the submissions.

After considerable deliberation by the Artisan Series jury panel, Russell Simmons announced the inaugural winners of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series — Washington, DC photographer Stan Squirewell and Miami artist Jorge Cavalier.  The winning artists will have their work installed at the Rush Arts Gallery in Manhattan from January 13-27, 2011.  (Photos by George Martinez)

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.