Russell Simmons: art for a cause

Like many celebs spotted around town, Russell Simmons is using his time at Art Basel to raise money for a good cause.

The hip-hop mogul has teamed up with Bombay Sapphire to create the Artisan Series, a two-day exhibit that features the work of 20 artists and benefits his Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.

The artisan series was launched in June as a national search aimed at finding undiscovered talent in the urban art and photography world.

On Saturday, Simmons and his big brother, Daniel, will host a private party at Paris Studios, where they will name two finalists of the series.

He’s excited to see who wins. “It’s really my brother and Mark [Ecko] who were responsible for choosing the artists. I just helped with infrastructure.”

Simmons is big on helping kids in the arts.

“The goal of the party is to raise money so we can provide disadvantaged children with arts education,” he says. “Without the arts, schools are like prisons. Kids need a creative outlet. They need their imaginations to survive.”

Speaking of survival, Simmons is hoping fans dig his new reality show on Oxygen.

“It’s nutty!” he says. “But I like that people get to see all the things I do.”

— MICAELA HOOD

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