**Those dynamic Simmons brothers — Russell & Danny — joined forces to host the 14th annual Art For Life benefit and raised $1.5 million and counting for their Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at Fairview Farms in Bridgehampton. This year’s event was truly star-studded with an audience of tastemakers, trendsetters, politicians, celebrity icons, community leaders and more.
Themed A Field of Dreams, the haute Hamptons happening celebrated the creative energy of New York City youth and honored individuals in the community for their career achievements and philanthropic work. Entrancing guests looked breathtakingly beautiful wearing dreamy hues of peacock green, aquamarine and amethyst as they gathered on the spacious farm grounds before dinner followed by an esteemed program.
Executive produced by Ronnie Davis, Ronnie Davis Productions, the Art For Life event was hosted by Soledad O’Brien and featured special performances by Estelle, Rick Ross and Maxwell as well as a surprise performance by Doug E. Fresh and Rush Kids.
This year’s honorees included Samuel Englebardt and William D. Johnson of Demarest Films, Anne Pasternak of Creative Time, writer Walter Mosley, and filmmaker Tyler Perry.
Actor Anthony Anderson who hosted the Rush Kids Auction — which raised $240,000 — included such exclusive experiences as a dinner with Magic Johnson and five friends; a walk-on role in Tyler Perry’s next feature film; a VIP package with the band One Direction; lunch with Sarah Jessica Parker; a day on tour with musician Robin Parker; a day on tour with musician Robin Thicke; and a meet and greet with Ice-T on the set of “Law & Order SVU.”
Sponsors of Art For Life 2013 gala included Bombay Sapphire (gold sponsor); Target (silver sponsor); DN Concepts (décor sponsor); Charitybuzz (online auction partner); Hamptons Magazine (media partner); and Hamptons.com, and Hamptons Mouthpiece (online media partners). Special thanks to Roberto Cavalli who provided linens, created especially for Art For Life in a vibrant patchwork of prints to compliment the event’s Field of Dreams theme.
Guests parting with a printed souvenir scarf included Angela Simmons, Michael Strahan, Nicole Murphy, Rev. Al Sharpton, Star Jones, Skylar Diggins, Olivia Culpo, Nana Meriwether, Melanie Fiona, Tahiry Jose, Jill Zarin, Kevin Liles, Chloe Flower, Flaviana Matata, Angela Martini and many more. Music was provided by DJ M.O.S.
Star Jones and Michael Strahan served as honorary chairs, and event chairs included Kimberly Hatchett, Crystal McCrary, Camilla Olsson and Richard & Lisa Plepler. Lucille Blair and Alberto Mugrabi served as art auction chairs with Shamin Abas and Angella Forbes as luxury auction chairs. This year’s featured artist was renowned artist and photographer Rashid Johnson. (Photos by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
About the Honorees:
President and Artistic Director Anne Pasternak joined Creative Time in the fall of 1994. Since that time, the organization, which began commissioning innovative public work in New York City in 1974, has collaborated with hundreds of artists to ignite the public’s imagination, explore ideas that shape society, and bring groundbreaking public art to millions of people around the world. Thanks to Pasternak’s vision, Creative Time now also presents national and global projects and initiatives, making it the only public arts organization with programs that have reached from New York to New Orleans, Haiti to Hanoi, Dubai to Denver, and now in outer space. Pasternak believes strongly that art matters in our world, and that artists should be weighing in on the key issues of our time. Under her leadership, Creative Time has produced such renowned projects as Playing the Building (David Byrne), during which the Battery Maritime Building was transformed into an interactive musical instrument; Tribute in Light (Julian Laverdiere and Paul Myoda), the twin beacons of light that illuminated the former World Trade Center site six months after 9/11; Waiting for Godot in New Orleans (Paul Chan), a restaging of Samuel Beckett’s play in the streets of post-Katrina New Orleans; Living as Form, a survey exhibition of two decades of socially-engaged art; and The Last Pictures (Trevor Paglen), a collection of photographs micro-etched onto a silicon disk and affixed to a satellite in perpetual orbit.
Sam Englebardt is co-founder and CEO at Demarest Films, a film and television production and financing company. At Demarest, Englebardt has produced or executive produced several films to date, including Neil Jordan’s Byzantium, starring Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Jonny Lee Miller and Sam Riley; Max Nichols’ Two Night Stand, starring Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton; Robert Luketic’s Paranoia, starring Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Liam Hemsworth and Amber Heard; Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe and Robin Wright; and Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills. Englebardt was previously a partner and managing director at Lambert Media Group (LMG). At LMG, he was responsible for developing new investment opportunities and overseeing a portfolio of media and entertainment investments that includes Rave Motion Pictures (the fifth-largest chain of movie theatres in the U.S., recently sold to Cinemark), Village Roadshow Pictures and Concord Music Group. Englebardt also lead LMG’s investments in several media and entertainment related technology start-ups.
Tyler Perry’s inspirational journey from the hard streets of New Orleans to the heights of Hollywood’s A-list is the stuff of American legend. Born into poverty and raised in a household scarred by abuse, Tyler fought from a young age to find the strength, faith and perseverance that would later form the foundations of his much-acclaimed plays, films, books and shows. It was a simple piece of advice from Oprah Winfrey that set Tyler’s career in motion. Encouraged to keep a diary of his daily thoughts and experiences, he began writing a series of soul-searching letters to himself. The letters, full of pain and in time, forgiveness, became a healing catharsis. His writing inspired a musical, I Know I’ve Been Changed, and in 1992, Tyler gathered his life’s savings and set off for Atlanta in hopes of staging it for sold out crowds. He spent all the money but the people never came, and Tyler once again came face to face with the poverty that had plagued his youth. He spent months sleeping in seedy motels and his car but his faith – in God and, in turn, himself – only got stronger. He forged a powerful relationship with the church, and kept writing. In 1998 his perseverance paid off and a promoter booked “I Know I’ve Been Changed” for a limited run at a local church-turned-theatre. This time, the community came out in droves, and soon the musical moved to Atlanta’s prestigious Fox Theatre. Tyler Perry never looked back. And so began an incredible run of 13 plays in as many years, including “Woman Thou Art Loosed!,” a celebrated collaboration with the prominent Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes. In the year 2000, I Can Do Bad All By Myself marked the first appearance of the now-legendary Madea. The God-fearing, gun-toting, pot-smoking, loud-mouthed grandmother, Madea, was played by Perry himself. Madea was such a resounding success, she soon spawned a series of plays – Madea’s Family Reunion (2002), Madea’s Class Reunion (2003), Madea Goes To Jail (2005) – and set the stage for Tyler’s jump to the big screen. In early 2005, Tyler’s first feature film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, debuted at number one nationwide. His ensuing films have all met with massive critical and commercial success, delighting audiences across America and around the world. In 2007, Tyler expanded his reach to television with the TBS series “House of Payne,” the highest-rated first-run syndicated cable show of all time, which went into syndication after only a year. His follow up effort, “Meet the Browns,” was the second highest debut ever on cable – after “House of Payne.” In late 2012, Perry teamed up with Oprah Winfrey in an exclusive deal to bring scripted programming to her cable network, OWN. The hour-long drama, “The Haves” and “The Have Nots” and the half our sitcom, “Love They Neighbor,” which made its debut on the network in the spring of 2013.
Walter Mosley is one of America’s most celebrated and best known writers. He has written over forty books, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. A few of his numerous awards include: the Anisfield Wolf Award, NAACP Image Award, the “Risktaker Award” honored by Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, and a Grammy. Mosley presently serves on the boards of The Nation and TransAfrica. Born and raised in Los Angeles he now lives in New York City.
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, William Johnson followed family tradition and went to work on Wall Street. His father, Charles Johnson, is the founder of Franklin Templeton Mutual Funds. After 25 years as a successful retail broker and money manager, Johnson turned his attention to the entertainment business. He partnered in 2011 with Sam Englebardt and Michael Lambert of Lambert Media Group to form Demarest Films, a film and television production company that applies a disciplined asset management approach to entertainment investing. At Demarest, Johnson has produced or executive produced six films to date, including Neil Jordan’s Byzantium, starring Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Jonny Lee Miller, and Sam Riley; Max Nichols’ Two Night Stand, starring Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton; Robert Luketic’s Paranoia, starring Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Liam Hemsworth and Amber Heard; Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, and Robin Wright; David Rosenthal’s A Single Shot, starring Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, Melissa Leo, and Jeffrey Wright; and Joseph Ruben’s Penthouse North, starring Michelle Monaghan and Michael Keaton.
About Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation
Proceeds from Art For Life benefit the Foundation’s signature arts education and gallery programs, which directly serve over 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 and emerging artists. Art For Life, which launched in 2000, is Rush Philanthropic’s primary fundraising outreach to friends and supporters. For more information, visit www.rushphilanthropic.org. Follow us on Twitter @rush_art, on Facebook www.facebook.com/RushPhilanthropicArtsFoundation and Instagram #ArtForLife. Tangie Murray is executive director of the Foundation.
New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets. Contact her via: [email protected]