Athletes for Art Renaissance Tour (AART) recently held their Athlete for Art Exhibition at the luxurious Mondrian Hotel in Miami, Florida. The benefit event was packed with notable celebrities and art connoisseurs—generally people with caring hearts that found time during their busy holiday schedules—to help support Smile Design Gallery (SDG), a charitable organization that sells art—in order to provide free dental care for people in need.
Amongst the key supporters at the AART benefit exhibition was Grammy Award winning producer, philanthropist and art enthusiast—Swizz Beatz, who recently curated ‘The Dean Collection’ for SCOPE at Art Basel Miami Beach. “The Smile Design Gallery does lots of amazing work,” said Swizz Beatz, whose ongoing contributions have aided SDG in treating well over 500 patients since its inception in the spring of 2013. “Shout out to my brother Grady Spivey and (celebrity dentist) Dr. Lee Gause in supporting art and a great cause. My dental office used to be an art gallery,” said Dr. Gause, a graduate of Howard University’s School of Dentistry. “I figured—why not convert it back to a gallery from time to time, and do what galleries do best—sell art? And in selling art, we can raise funds to treat people who can’t afford dental care.” Not a bad idea—considering the fact that dental decay is the most common disease in children living in poor communities (more than asthma and the common cold). So—in order to bring his charitable vision to fruition, Dr. Lee joined forces with the founder of AART—Jumoke Mendez, and the rest is history.
“We started the tour with the concept of me being a former athlete, as well as art being my first love,” said Mendez. “I really wanted to send out a message that athletes are more than just one dimensional creatures. Sometimes society throws us in a box, but many of us are doing much more than just playing sports.”
There’s certainly power in unity because the Athlete for Art Exhibition was a huge success, and featured a live auction of art pieces and sports memorabilia created and donated by pro athletes to benefit SDG. Items included a signed Miami Heat jersey from former Heat player Lebron James, and original artworks from St. Louis Rams’ Tight End Lance Kendricks, former New York Jets Aaron Maybin, Atlanta Falcons’ Cornerback Rob McClain and former NBA star Desmond Mason, among others. The tour continues in New York on February 12, 2015, where iconic32 will acknowledge and present a “Creative Rebel” award to Magic Johnson for his accomplishments to the sport of basketball, as well as communities and the business fields.
The event was sponsored by:Morgan Stanley, Fugoo, UWS, Orange County Choppers, Lyfe Tea, Miraflex R3, Edrington Group (Macallan), Fighter Energy, Lane Sports, Excell Auto Group, Casablanca Yacht, and Gurkha Cigars.
AART Miami Tour Recap Video:https://vimeo.com/115239045
– Zangba Thomson
Photographer: Peter Parkkerr