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Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Art

The Sixth Annual Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series with Aron Belka

By Eliza Jordan

June 29, 2016

Last week, Bombay Sapphire celebrated the final phase of its acclaimed Artisan Series—an art competition that was launched in 2010 by Russell and Danny Simmons’ RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation. The program aims to find undiscovered multicultural artists, and the first phase of its competition (after winning a coveted spot among thousands to travel to Miami), begins at Art Basel Miami Beach. Last December, New Orleans-based Aron Belka competed against 12 other artists, and was ultimately awarded first place for his outstanding work—a large-scale painting of a woman in Africa who was treating patients with Ebola during the recent outbreak; his wife.

This series’ creative mentor, Rosario Dawson, was drawn to the emotion in Belka’s compassionate work, saying in December, “I strive to collaborate with programs that are personally meaningful to me and that will make a significant impact on the next generation of artists. I’m fortunate to have opportunities to further my commitment, and help support emerging creatives around the world like Aron Belka.”

Open Gallery

Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.

Belka was then granted the opportunity to display a number of works in March at the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series booth at SCOPE New York, and to gear up to create a mural of his choice in his hometown, New Orleans, or Dawson’s hometown, New York City. Conclusively, Belka chose to do a mural in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, and debuted it with an official unveiling on Thursday night at 188 Lafayette Street. Guests and New Yorkers passing by were able to catch the first sight of the mural—a bright portrait of legendary jazz artist Allen Toussaint, who passed away last November.

At the mural’s unveiling, Belka was able to meet Toussaint’s son and daughter, Alison Lebeaux and Reginald Toussaint, for the first time, as they, along with the National Art Curator for the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Andre Guichard, joined in commemorating Toussaint and the mural’s lively debut. After the cut of a ribbon and a few kind words, guests meandered three blocks over to PUBLIC for a cocktail reception filled with light bites, cocktails with names like “Toussaint’s Jazz” and “French 75,” and a jazz band tribute courtesy of The Willerm Delisfort Quartet.

Open Gallery

Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.

“I’m a big fan,” said Belka of Toussaint. ” I thought the mural was going to be in New Orleans, and everyone knows Toussaint in New Orleans,” he explained. “But then when we switched it [to New York], I sort of pondered, rethinking the subject, but then I said, ‘You know what, he spent a lot of time in New York. He actually came here and lived here after Katrina for about five years. So I stuck with Toussaint, and I think New Yorkers need to know him better anyway.”

The celebration marked the end of this year’s series, and the beginning of the next—the 7th Annual Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series application process has simultaneously just begun.

Open Gallery

Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.

Open Gallery

Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.

Open Gallery

Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
188 Lafayette Street6th Annual Bombay Sapphire Artisan SeriesAlison LebeauxAllen ToussaintAndre GuichardAndrew GuichardAron BelkaArt Basel Miami BeachBombay SapphireBombay Sapphire Artisan SeriesBombay Sapphire GinDanny SimmonsElizabeth StreetFrench 75ginjazzjazz musiclive musicNew OrleansNew Orleans artistNew York CityNYCNYC muralpublicReginald ToussaintRosario DawsonRushRush Philanthropic Arts FoundationRussell SimmonsSCOPE New Yorkstreet artThe Willerm Delisfort QuartetToussaint's Jazz

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