Part of what makes Art Basel so damn fun, we mean besides the art, of course, is the fact that celebrities use the opportunity to show their cultural sides. Case and point: Russell Simmons, the hip-hop magnate and patriarch of the most popular reality TV family not named the Kardashians. Simmons will be in town during Basel, hosting an urban art and photography exhibit at Paris Studios on South Beach, on Saturday, December 4, which promises to be both a celebrity magnet and a good way to further the careers of upstart artists. And though the show promises to bring even more big names to an already celebrity-laden South Beach, the event is more than a chance to stare at the glitterati. There is an actual cause here, and a talented one at that. Simmons, along with brothers Danny and "RevRun" Joseph, created the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation in 1995 to give exposure to underrepresented artists. Earlier this year, the organization teamed with Bombay Sapphire to create the Artisan Series to find the next big thing in urban photography or art. Think American Idol for urban art, without the soul killing element of reality television. Almost 2,000 artists submitted their work online and several exhibits in major urban centers across the country were held to find 20 finalists who were chosen to exhibit their work in Miami during Art Basel. Two winners -- chosen by Rush Philanthropic and another clothing line heavyweight Mark Ecko -- will be crowned at Paris Studios this week. The winners will get their own exhibit in The Rush Arts Gallery in Manhattan in January. Russell and Danny Simmons will be at the exhibit party, along with Ecko, and what we can only imagine will be significant gaggle of other celebs and big time artists.
Sat., Dec. 4, 8 p.m., 2010