BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® gin and Russell and Danny Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation hosted the 6th Annual BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series Mural Unveiling for Grand Finale Winner and New Orleans’ artist Aron Belka in New York City. For the first time this year, actress and social activist Rosario Dawson served as Creative Mentor of the annual arts program, by personally collaborating with Belka to develop the concept for his public mural installation.
Jennifer Mitchell on behalf of Bombay Sapphire Gin
An illustrious mix of influencers from the worlds of art and entertainment gathered at the exclusive celebration – located at 188 Lafayette St. – to witness the unveiling of Aron’s mural, inspired by New Orleans jazz musician, Allen Toussaint, who passed away just last year. Born and raised in Belka’s hometown of New Orleans, Toussaint lived in New York City for many years, but has always been a strong source of inspiration for Belka. Toussaint’s children, Alison and Reginald attended the momentous celebration before joining attendees at the after party held at PUBLIC. There, guests enjoyed artfully crafted BOMBAY SAPPHIRE cocktails while dancing to a live jazz band, the Willerm Delisfort Quartet, in honor of Belka’s work and Toussaint’s legacy.
Jennifer Mitchell on behalf of Bombay Sapphire Gin
In addition to Grand Finale Winner Aron Belka, two additional artists were selected among the 12 finalists of the 6th Annual BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series: Shawn Warren from Chicago and People’s Choice Winner Becky Rosa from Miami. For the second year in a row, the Top 3 artists are given the unique opportunity to bring their singular visions to life by creating a largescale mural in each of their hometowns this summer, as part of the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Mural Arts Project. Rosa recently debuted her work in Miami on June 9th, while Warren will present his creation in Los Angeles on August 4th.
Designing and unveiling my first mural has been an incredible artistic experience,” said Belka. “Before winning the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series, I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to collaborate with someone like Rosario Dawson, who is an innovator on so many different creative levels. Working with Rosario on this project has been an absolute privilege and has offered a fresh perspective to my creative process.  Furthermore, it’s been a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to pay tribute to Allen Toussaint and represent New Orleans with my work. I hope that this incredible experience can inspire other emerging artists to take a chance and get involved with this program that truly fosters artistic talent.
Jennifer Mitchell on behalf of Bombay Sapphire Gin
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.
“Since the Miami Artisan Series Finale in December, Aron and I have established a remarkable creative dialogue based on our personal thoughts and ideas for the mural,” said Creative Mentor Rosario Dawson. “Rooted in Aron’s background of New Orleans and the city’s extraordinary jazz culture, the inspiration was to honor and celebrate the late American Musician Allen Toussaint, who was an influential figure in New Orleans R&B from the 1950s to the end of the century. From growing up in Lower East Side of Manhattan to my connections in music and the arts – we decided to also incorporate a visceral experience with human interaction; so the piano would become an extension of Toussaint himself.  I’m honored to be a part of this project because I believe it will not only touch the lives of Toussaint’s friends and family, but it will hopefully start a larger conversation surrounding opportunities and platforms for emerging artists – the message that the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series and Studio 189 were built upon.”
BOMBAY SAPPHIRE VP and Brand Managing Director Ned Duggan added, “As we enter our seventh year of the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series, we are excited and inspired to continue uncovering such talented emerging artists. The debut of Aron’s public mural continues to reinforce the brand’s commitment to the artistic community, by providing a national stage for these artists to bring their vision to life. Aron’s masterpiece exemplifies the spirit of BOMBAY SAPPHIRE – self-expression, artistry and imagination – and we are honored to have even played a role in his journey while he continues to grow and inspire others on a national level.”
Now coming into its seventh 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 States including New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit, Washington D.C., Atlanta, San Francisco, Miami, Houston and Los Angeles while two additional finalists were determined by popular vote. This year’s Artisan Series officially kicked off June 9th and will extend until August 17th where artists can submit their work at For the first-time this year, the program will also expand to Canada.
The partnership between BOMBAY SAPPHIRE and Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation has evolved from the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE brands 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.

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