House of the Spirit

March 19th - May 7th, 2010

Danny Simmons

Danny Simmons, Jr., is an American abstract painter from Queens, NY, who once coined his particular style of painting as “neo-African Abstract Expressionism.” Among the most impressive artists of his day, The New York Times says that he “injects freshness” into his abstracts, and that they are “meticulously rendered and decoratively impressive.” Simmons’ works can be seen all over the world in such prominent establishments as Chase Manhattan Bank, The Smithsonian, United Nations, and more, Many have been obtained by art lovers and renowned celebrities everywhere, including: music industry executive/producer Lyor Cohen, and actor Will Smith, to name a few. Simmons is also the author of five books, the latest titled Deep in Your Best Reflection, an intimate compilation of real-life texts and emails shared with a former girlfriend. He conceived of and co-produced the hit HBO series Def Poetry Jam, which made such as impact that Def Poetry is now offered as an elective at the University of Wisconsin, and won Simmons a Tony Award for the Broadway version of the show. Co-founder – along with his siblings, music mogul Russell, and hip hop legend Joseph Simmons aka “Rev Run” – and president of the Rush Arts Gallery, Simmons is also founder and VP of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization “dedicated to providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant arts exposure and access to the arts,” as well as a former board member of the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Conference of Artists. Danny Simmons holds a Bachelor’s degree in social work from New York University, a Masters in public finance from Long Island University, and is the recipient of an honorary PhD from Long Island University. Simmons sits on the Boards of Long Island University, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Bridge Park National Conference of Artists, Hampton University Museum and remains an adviser to the Brooklyn Museum. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

About the Exhibit

The Art Gallery of Queensborough Community College is pleased to sponsor this exhibition and its accompanying catalog. House of the Spirit: The Work and Collection of Danny Simmons represents more than two decades in the life of this influential artist, philanthropist, and collector. His paintings and drawings have been widely exhibited throughout the United States. He manages The Corridor Gallery in Brooklyn, and chairs the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, which funds numerous arts groups. We thank Mr. Simmons for opening his studio to us, not once but many times in preparation for this exhibition. Our appreciation also extends to The Corridor Gallery and Rush Philanthropic Arts staff, Nina Ziefvert, Manager of Exhibition Programs, and Sameeh Alderazi, Gallery Assistant, for their assistance in compiling photos. We are also grateful to Lisa Scandaliato, Administrative Assistant at the QCC Art Gallery, for her help with this exhibition. Private collectors loaned paintings by Simmons for this exhibition. We are grateful to them for their cooperation in making part of their collection available for the duration of this show.

We extend thanks to Donna Page for curating this exhibition and for the catalog essay. Providing background information on Simmons’ artwork and his African art collection, she explains some of the threads that link these seemingly divergent bodies of work. She has previously written for QCC Gallery publications, including Artists and Patrons in Traditional African Cultures (2005) and A Cameroon World (2007).

Two other scholars contributed separate introductions, each in their own area of expertise. Leonard Kahan is a curator and appraiser, artist, and writer. Most recently, he co-authored Surfaces: Color, Substances and Ritual Application on African Sculpture. In his introduction to this essay, he provides an overview of the African art in Simmons’ collection. Leslie King-Hammond is Graduate Dean Emeritus and Founding Director of the Center for Race and Culture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. In her introduction, she places Danny Simmons within the contemporary art milieu, elucidating some of the endeavors he has included within his career path.

Thanks and great appreciation go to the President of Queensborough Community College, Dr. Eduardo Marti, for his ongoing dedication and support of the QCC art Gallery.