By Dymond Alexis
Philadelphia is not only a place for good food and brotherly love, it’s also the home of thousands of murals and talented artists who have paved the way.
Artist, philanthropist and poet Danny Simmons founded Rush Arts Philadelphia (RAP) in 2016 after relocating from Brooklyn, New York to Philadelphia. Simmons fell in love with the city and wanted to continue spotlighting emerging artists in a city filled with talent.
“I saw a need of artists of color, women and emerging artists,” said Simmons.
Simmons believes that Philadelphia is evolving quickly and states that RAP can evolve with the city, becoming something more meaningful as time goes on. To see Simmons come to Philadelphia and give opportunities to artists in the tri-state area was amazing to witness. This was the first fundraiser in Philadelphia and the event was refreshing, inspirational and balanced with memorizing pieces of art.
The gala was hosted by Angela Simmons, Vanessa Simmons, Jo Jo Simmons, Dyana Williams and Lenny Bazemore. I had such a great time at Art For Life! Between the amazing food to the stunning venue, Art for Life brought an artistic vibe to Philadelphia. Danny Simmons and Taneshia Nash Laird brought out nothing but the best to Art for Life. Everyone looked stunning also!
The honorees of the night were Judith Brodsky, James Brantley and Jane Golden. Each person has contributed countless hours and granted opportunities to emerging artists in their areas.
Brodsky has constantly created opportunities for artists especially women, creating many opportunities for their work to be seen in many places. She is the founder of The Brodsky Center and co-founder/co-director of the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art. The Brodsky Center was brought to Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) and it’s mission is to work with culturally diverse artists. The next honoree, James Brantley, is a Philadelphia native who graduated from Simon Gratz High School. Losing his mother before the age of one drew him closer to his father and art. His first inspiration was his father and he quickly learned that art is the foundation of the civilization. Brantley knew young that he would be an artist for the rest of his life.
“An artist has something to do with everything we touch,” said Brantley.
The last honoree of the night was Jane Golden. Golden serves as the Executive Director of the Mural Arts Philadelphia. Under Golden’s direction, Mural Arts has created over 4,000 works of public art through innovative collaborations with community-based organizations, city agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools, the private sector, and philanthropies. In partnership with a range of city agencies, she has developed groundbreaking and rigorous art education, restorative justice, and behavioral health programs that serve young people, youth and adult offenders at area prisons and detention centers, and individuals suffering from trauma, mental illness, and addiction. Golden employs over 200 artists.
“I wanted artists to feel valued over their work,” says Golden.
Past honorees and supporters of the fundraiser in the Hamptons include Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey, Jay Z, Serena Williams, Ava DuVernay, Magic Johnson, Alec Baldwin, LL Cool J, Lady Gaga, Soledad O’Brien, Dave Chappelle, Kimora Lee Simmons, Martha Stewart and Gordon Parks among many others.