Log In   ·   Become A Member

INTERVIEW Russell Simmons: Art For Life Hamptons A Field Of Dreams

Nicole B. Brewer

  |   1 Comment · Print Article

Russell Simmons and Sandra Denton of Salt N Pepa put on a show last year at Art For Life. (Photo: Rob Rich/societyAllure.com)

"Art For Life is a labor of love," says one of the Hamptons most famous former residents, music mogul Russell Simmons, of the annual summer gala that has become the most star-studded event of the season - think Oscar winners Jennifer Hudson and Gwyneth Paltrow, and musicians Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and John Legend. This year is no different with performances by Estelle, Maxwell, and Rick Ross as well as DJ MOS planned and honorees including filmmaker and philanthropist Tyler Perry, President and Artistic Director at Creative Time Anne Pasternak, Co-Founders of Demarest Films Samuel Englebardt and William D. Johnson, featured artist Rashid Johnson, and novelist Walter Mosley guaranteed to bring an A-List crowd out to celebrate and support the arts.

Art For Life 2013 honorees Anne Pasternak (center), (clockwise from top left) Tyler Perry, Samuel Englebardt, Walter Mosley, and William D. Johnson. (Courtesy Photos)

"When I was in school I had art programs and music programs. Everything I've done today has been because I was able to exercise creativity as a young person. Art allows people a way to dream their way out of their struggle," says Russell. The man who would become a global icon grew up humbly in Jamaica, Queens. His father was a teacher, later a professor of Black History at Pace University, and his mother worked for the New York City Parks Department. Russell tells me, "They were also artists."

"The reason we started Art For Life in the Hamptons," Russell explains, "is because there are so many giving people there. Before I sold my house in East Hampton, my backyard was the space for this event and we were able to raise a lot of money and do good things for young people. Art For Life is the best party in the Hamptons." Together with his brothers, artist Danny Simmons and Joseph "Rev. Run" Simmons of Run-DMC, Russell founded Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation in 1995 to "fill the gap that the disenfranchised and people of color faced in both accessing the arts and exhibition opportunities." For the last 14 years, the family has hosted the fundraising event, Art For Life, at Russell's East Hampton home. With the recent sale of the house came a new location, Fairview Farms in Bridgehampton, for the gala slated for Saturday, July 27, 2013.

Russell takes a minute to enjoy the night with brother Danny Simmons at Art For Life 2012. (Photo: Rob Rich/SocietyAllure.com)

To pull off a spectacular event for 1,000 - dressed this year in hues of "dreamy peacock, aquamarine, and amethyst" as per the invitation - and raise millions for art in the process takes a great team of dedicated people says Russell, "We have an amazing team and so many partners that come together to make the event a success. We've developed a broad base of friends, collaborators and supporters dedicated to addressing the issue of filling the gap that disenfranchised people face in both accessing the arts and exhibition opportunities." That A-team includes honorary event chairs Star Jones and Michael Strahan, the evening's host Soledad O'Brien, auction chairs Shamin Abas and Angella Forbes, and committee members including Lala Anthony, actress/model Patricia Velasquez, Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, Sara Herbert-Galloway and Barry Klarberg, model Petra Nemcova, designer Rachel Roy, and author and former "The Real Housewives of New York City" star Kelly Bensimon.

Soledad O'Brien, Tangie Murray, Danny Simmons, Mary J.Blige, Kimberly B.Davis, Tamara Mellon, Oz Mellon, and Edward Norton, with Russell Simmons at Art For Life 2011. (Photo: Rob Rich/SocietyAllure.com)

"My typical day in the Hamptons starts at the beach," says Russell. "I usually meditate there for a while then head to yoga. I'll have a vegan lunch at Babette's then, if I have guests, its back home to hang out there with friends."

Russell, who names Ross Bleckner, April Gornik, and Chuck Close as his favorite Hamptons artists, finds inspiration everywhere and passes on that positivity to his 2.8+ million @UncleRUSH Twitter followers, including yours truly. "What inspires me changes on a daily basis," he says. "One day it's Deepak Chopra and the Dalai Lama and the next it's the selflessness of Nelson Mandela."

Russell get a smooch from daughter Ming Lee at Art For Life 2010. (Photo: Colin Graham)

What's next for Russell? "I relocated to Los Angeles full time to spend more time with my kids [Ming Lee Simmons and Aoki Lee Simmons with former wife Kimora Lee Simmons]. I also recently launched my YouTube original content channel, ADD. ADD Video will be a platform for online users to celebrate and explore some of the coolest lifestyle projects with great access to current and rising stars across entertainment, music, fashion, sports, and film - all with a different take on the news."

Over the years Hamptons.com has been proud to support Art For Life as a media partner, and will do so again this year. During those years Russell has told me time and time again that he "wouldn't be here without art." I am sure that the many children and young people who have benefited from the enrichment they received at the various Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation programs over the years would agree.

You can be part of "Art For Life" by purchasing tickets or bidding in the online auction that includes experiences with Magic Johnson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Robin Thicke, LL Cool J, One Direction, and Lyor Cohen on Charity Buzz.

Guests at Art For Life 2013 will be treated to performances by Estelle, Maxwell, and Rick Ross. (Courtesy Photos)

Nicole, an award-winning journalist, is Executive Editor & Publisher of Hamptons.com where she focuses on celebrity interviews, fine living and design, social events, fashion and beauty. She lives on the North Fork with her husband, their two daughters, and Bernese Mountain dog, Cooper. www.hamptons.com HamptonsOnline NicoleBBrewer NicoleBBrewer NicoleBBrewer

Related Articles:

Guest (michael bassett) from www.bassetthouseinn.com east hampton says::
yes the hamptons has a bad rap people should think of all the good that is done thru these charity events
Jul 25, 2013 3:32 pm


Submit Your Comment

Please note, you are not currently logged in. Your comment will be submitted as a guest.
To submit your comment as a member, please click here.
Your Name:
* Comments will be reviewed and posted in a timely fashion
* All fields are required
What color is the sky?
(For spam prevention, thanks)
Rosehip Partners Real Estate
Properties In The Hamptons

East End Tick Control
The East End's only New York State licensed dedicated tick and mosquito control specialists!

Hamptons Carpet One Floor & Home
We pay less,and so do you.With over 1,000 stores in our buying group, we can get the lowest prices from the best flooring manufacturers — and pass the savings on to you.Visit our other locations: Hamptons Carpet One Floor & Home, 675 North Sea Road,Southampton, NY 11968

CP Complete- Landscape Design & Construction
Paul Guillo And Chris Hall Two Of The Most Respected Names In The Community Together, they are partners in CP Complete. They bring their years of experience and integrity to creating and renovating luxury backyards.

Hamptons luxury real estate specialist for 33 years, Andrea Ackerman offers outstanding expertise in the field.
Hamptons luxury real estate specialist for 34 years, Andrea Ackerman offers outstanding expertise in the field. Trusted, experienced and successful, Andrea has solidified herself as the go-to broker of the Hamptons and a wholehearted advocate for her clients. A pioneer in the real estate industry on the East End of Long Island, she is driven by her passion for the business. Andrea is based in the Bridgehampton office of Brown Harris Stevens as a licensed real estate associate broker and consultant. Formerly, a principal partner and Senior Director at Brown Harris Stevens, Andrea now assists in developing their corporate strategy for the Hamptons region, advising other brokers and sales associates, as well as being one of the top producers and listors.

Southrifty Drug 54 Jagger Lane, Southampton Village
Southrifty Drug is a small, neighborhood pharmacy with limited shelf space, and we have to be very selective about which over-the-counter items we carry. As a result you'll find a no nonsense concentration of very effective, high quality and useful products on our shelves. In this new section, we feature a number of these products that we feel are especially worthy of your consideration.

Burner Law Group, P.C.
Burner Law Group, P.C. are full service elder law attorneys concentrating in the areas of Estate Planning, Trust and Estate Administration and Litigation, Special Needs Planning, Guardianship and Elder Law. Offices in East Setauket‚ NY, Westhampton Beach, NY, and New York, NY.

Calissa is Mykonos in the Hamptons.
Our menu focuses on seafood and Greek dishes such as salt baked fish, seafood pasta and Mediterranean mezze. Our wine list has been awarded The Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator and boasts the largest selection of rosé in the Hamptons. The name Calissa is derived from the brightest constellation in the summer sky.Our sister restaurants in New York are Amali and Bar Marseille, opening 2020 in the Rockaways. Calissa offers private dining spaces for groups from 10 to 300 people. To plan your next wedding, corporate event or gathering, please email events@calissahamptons.com. 1020 MONTAUK HIGHWAY, WATER MILL

Suburban Propane in Bridgehampton, New York has been serving proudly supporting our community for 90 years.
Suburban Propane has been serving the energy needs for home owners and business in the Hampton’s for decades. We offer friendly service by local professionals you know and trust, plus the peace of mind that comes from knowing we are among the leaders in the industry for safety.

WordHampton Public Relations
We build client revenues and reputations. Our reputation is built on delivering a strong media presence and, as a result, demand for our clients' offerings, resulting in a positive impact on sales. Successful campaigns start with understanding the goals of our clients and developing a customized strategy that will achieve those objectives.

SGF Acupuncture, PLLC. Is owned and operated By Sandra Geehreng Foster.
SGF Acupuncture, PLLC. Is owned and operated By Sandra Geehreng Foster. Her treatments are based on five element acupuncture. She also offers Far Infrared Sauna treatments. PEMF cellular excerise.

Spanish Maven was founded by Marisa Ramirez.
Spanish Maven was founded by Marisa Ramirez after she experienced learning English as a second language upon relocating to New York.