In the midst of key events like The Global Poverty Projects’ Global Citizen Festival in New York’s Central Park and the Congressional Black Caucus Weekend in Washington, D.C., the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation gathered over 300 guests from the young New York art scene for their annual Gold Rush Awards. The Saturday evening event, held at Littlefield in Brooklyn, celebrated contemporary artists and art influencers Sarah Lewis, Derrick Adams, Molly Crabapple, Dread Scott, and Hank Willis Thomas.
From Lewis’ debut book The Rise, on “creativity, failure and the gift of mastery,” to Willis Thomas’ innovative video installation “Question Bridge” that confronts Black male identity in America, the event’s honorees were lauded for their ability to position art as relevant voice within a year of societal reevaluation. Scott, an artist whose identity has been steeped in activism since the beginning of his career, created the 1988 interactive instillation “What is the Proper Way to Display a US Flag?” that propelled a national conversation when former president George H.W. Bush referred to his work as “disgusting,” and is still shown today.
It was fitting that, in a week of global debates and national policy review, there was a celebration of artists who question society — from the killing of Mike Brown to the policy of war in the Middle East. However, for as deeply as the work as the artists tread, the party was a homecoming of sorts for art patrons and artists alike.
Rush Philanthropic co-founder Danny Simmons and the organization’s executive director Tangie Murray joined notable guests including rapper Talib Kweli, artist Sanford Biggers and DJ D-Nice — who also led one of three sets during the evening. In addition to the awards, hosted by Fab 5 Freddy, hip hop icons EPMD and DJ Scratch headlined the awards show with a performance that captured the crowd in a 20-minute performance. DJ Olivia Dope also led a set that evening.
A strong influencer and advocate of diverse contemporary artists as well as youth, Rush Philanthropic has launched an auction with Paddle 8 that includes works from honoree Willis Thomas as well as artist Kehinde Wiley. Visit Paddle8.com to view the available works.
Click on the pictures below to view more guests who celebrated the evening and see the video above to learn more about the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.