On Saturday evening into the early hours of Sunday morning, Russell Simmons hosted his 14th annual Art For Life benefit sponsored by Bombay Sapphire Gin. This year’s event was held at Fairview Farms, a beautiful new venue in Bridgehampton, which boasted breathtaking views of the Long Island Sound. Samuel Englebardt and William D. Johnson of Demarest Films, Anne Pasternak of Creative Time, writer Walter Mosely and filmmaker Tyler Perry were this year’s honorees. This year’s featured artist was Rashid Johnson, exhibited a new work as part of the event. Other celebrities in attendance included Soledad O’Brien, Star Jones, Michael Strahan, Dina Lohan and Anthony Anderson. Maxwell, Estelle and Rick Ross all performed.
Check out our exclusive interviews from the red carpet!
Artist Rashid Johnson is originally from Chigaco.
Can you tell me about your art being featured here today?
It’s a branded wood flooring work. It’s a body of work I’ve been working on for the last few years, so it’s exciting to see it displayed here today.
What kind of art work do you do?
I make paintings, sculptures, films.
How did you get involved with the event?
Russell got in touch with me. I guess he was made aware of the things I’ve been working on and…his enthusiasm for what I’ve been doing led me to be here tonight.
How did you get started in the arts?
I guess like most people do started in school. Which a big reason why I’m here and excited to be here tonight and I just kept playing and pushing it.
Comedian Anthony Anderson kept guests entertained!
How important are the arts to you?
I’m an artist. I grew up when we had this in our schools and community and it’s a shame that the arts and all of that in some cases are no longer a part of our curriculum in school. So I think this is a great thing that Russell’s doing here.
What performance are you most excited for?
Maxwell’s a good friend of mine. So I’m just here to see Maxwell put on a good show for the ladies. That’s all. Cause that only helps us men out!
In addition to Art for Life, Bombay Sapphire is currently supporting another creative initiative called the “Imagination Series.” On July 12, Academy Award-winning screenwriter of “Precious”, Geoffrey Fletcher premiered the five winning short films from the “Bombay Sapphire Imagination Series: Film” competition. This initiative is co-sponsored by the Tribeca Film Festival. The program challenges filmmakers from around the world to use their imagination to interpret a script by Mr. Fletcher. Hundreds of aspiring filmmakers entered last year’s competition and the five concepts deemed the most imaginative were produced into short films, which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Adrien Brody was recently named judge for the competition’s second year, which is currently accepting entries through August 18! For more info on the program, visit: imaginationseries.com.