This weekend, during Scope Miami Beach, BOMBAYSAPPHIRE gin, along with Russell and Danny Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, announced New Orleans’ Aron Belka as the Grand Finale Winner of the 6th Annual BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series. Choosing the victor of the annual nationwide search for the next big names in visual arts took careful consideration from a jury panel including Rush Philanthropic co-founder Danny Simmons, Vice President of SCOPE Art Show Daria Brit Greene, and Afropunk Community Affairs Director Manushka Magloire. The winning artist, Aron Belka will collaborate with actress, social activist, and Creative Mentor Rosario Dawsonon a public mural installation in Spring 2016.
An illustrious mix of celebrities, musicians, socialites, fashion designers and art influencers attended the exclusive finale event at the Beach Tent at Nautilus, a SIXTY Hotel, on Friday, December 4. The guest list included Rosario Dawson, Solange Knowles and celebrity stylist Ty Hunter; Recording Artists: Miguel andTeyana Taylor; supermodels: Shaun Ross, Garrett Neff, and Lady Victoria Hervey; BK The Artist; TK Wonderand Cipriana Quann (Urban Bush Babes), DJ Cassidy, and Patrick Janelle (Instagram Star and Founder of The Liquor Cabinet). Attendees sipped artfully crafted BOMBAY SAPPHIRE cocktails while dancing to music spun by DJ Kitty Cash.
Now in its sixth year, the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series, an annual collaboration with Russell and Danny Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, casts its net nationwide in search of the most talented emerging visual artists. Thousands of artists were invited to enter the 2015 Artisan Series by creating a piece of inspired, original art. The work of ten artists was then selected from local gallery events across the United Statesincluding New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit, Washington D.C., Atlanta, San Francisco, Miami, Houston and Los Angeles. Two additional finalists were determined online by popular votes.
Along with Grand Finale Winner Aron Belka, two other artists were selected among the 12 finalists who’d made their way to the exclusive Finale bash: Shawn Warren from Chicago and People’s Choice Becky Rosa from Miami. For the second year in a row, all three of the top artists will have the unique opportunity to create a largescale mural in each of their hometowns next spring, as part of the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Mural Arts Project. The Grand Prize winner will also receive a solo exhibit at SCOPE NYC in March 2016.
Prior to announcing the top three winning artists, Artisan Series program curator Andre Guichard, Creative Mentor Rosario Dawson, and Russell Simmons toasted the program’s incredible achievements. Russell Simmons addressed the finalists: “Over the last six years, we’ve succeeded in discovering some truly remarkable talent in partnership with BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin, and I’m very proud of that. This year, for the very first time, we’re honored to have the opportunity to introduce my friend, actress and social activist Rosario Dawson to our program, who will serve as a Creative Mentor for the program. We continue to discover the most talented generations of visual artists, and we are very excited to continue working with our partners BOMBAY SAPPHIRE to discover and shine a light on their creativity and imagination. It’s been a successful six years, and we’re just getting started!”
Of his Grand Finale win, Belka said, “I’m still in shock considering the thousands of worthy entries received, and how talented they all are. Having my work viewed at an international festival as influential as SCOPE Miami is a dream that every artist has. I can’t wait to bring my vision to life at my solo exhibit at Scope NYC, and my future collaboration with Rosario Dawson.”
As part of her longtime advocacy for positive social change, Rosario Dawson recently launched Studio 189, an online platform headquartered in Ghana, dedicated to promoting and fostering African culture and African-inspired content through a blend of creative projects and e-commerce. The primary focus of Studio 189 is empowerment, education and employment among artisans and creatives. Rosario has teamed with the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series program as an extension of the actress’ commitment to the global artistic community.
As the first-ever Creative Mentor for the program, Rosario Dawson says, “I strive to collaborate with programs that are personally meaningful to me and that will make a significant impact on the next generation of artists. I’m fortunate to have opportunities to further my commitment, and help support emerging creatives around the world like Aron Belka. I’m so excited about working with Aron and BOMBAY SAPPHIRE to bring his vision to life on a public mural next spring.”
BOMBAY SAPPHIRE VP, Brand Managing Director Ned Duggan added, “BOMBAY SAPPHIRE has a rich history within the arts and the creative community ever since its launch nearly 30 years ago. Over the years, BOMBAYSAPPHIRE has continued to reinforce its commitment to the arts and the artistic community by supporting emerging artists with competitions like the Artisan Series. The spirit of Bombay Sapphire — self-expression, creativity and imagination — lives in these artists and their work. We’re proud to be associated with such incredible talent as they continue to grow and inspire one another year after year.”
The partnership between BOMBAY SAPPHIRE and Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation has evolved from the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE brand’s longstanding commitment to fostering creativity and supporting artists in a variety of different mediums, including design, film and visual arts. With ongoing presence of BOMBAY SAPPHIRE at Scope Art Fair, and Rush’s mission of providing exhibition opportunities for underrepresented artists, the annual collaboration continues to introduce the world to innovative and rising talent.