This past Saturday was the 2016 Gold Rush Awards, an annual event that celebrates prominent artists and influential curators within the arts community.
Founded in 1995 by brothers Danny, Russell and Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons, the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation has grown into an organization that promotes artistic expression and exposure within inner city areas of New York City.
Through creating a network of artists, collaborators and supporters, Rush has developed a number of programs that benefit emerging artists, and the Gold Rush Awards was a testament to that.
Located at Brooklyn’s Littlefield (the event has been hosted there for the past three years) the awards ceremony also doubled as an exhibit, featuring a number of works from talented artists.
From Tim Okamura‘s “Rosie #1” painting, which is a reinterpretation of the iconic “Rosie The Riveter” image popularized during World War II, to Azikiwe Mohammed‘s “Ineffable Wisdom #2: Harriet Tubman” piece, which featured wise words from Tubman written on a mirror, the diverse collection of art served as a testament to why Rush was created.
DJ April Hunt provided the sounds for the night, seamlessly blending together Foster Sylvers, Solange, Trick Daddy and many other artists. The soundtrack made the event feel more like a party, where attendees were simultaneously dancing and viewing what was on display.
Although the honorees work within the art world in different ways they still do so much within their respective occupations, using their platforms to not only create and curate art, but to promote progression.
Such is evident with Drew, most commonly known by her online handle, MuseumMammy. After serving as an intern at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Drew started her now well known Tumblr blog Black Contemporary Art. Since then she has delivered lectures and participated in a number of panel discussions, while still promoting black art.
Then there’s Curry, commonly known as Swoon. A classically trained visual artist and printmaker, Swoon has done everything from create wheat pasting portraits across the world, to building community centers and homes in Haiti.
As the honorees took the stage they were given crowns reminiscent of the ones featured in Jean-Michel Basquiat’s art.
“Thank you Rush for recognizing my work so early in my career,” Newsome, a multidisciplinary artist said after giving a brief speech.
“I want to expand Rush,” Danny Simmons said. “There’s still so much more to be done.”
But the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation is already doing a good job, and will hopefully continue to expand over time.