Art enthusiasts — including several television and film actors, and professional fashion models — recently came together for the Freedom United Foundation’s “Art with a Cause” show, which featured a diverse lineup of contemporary and hip-hop-inspired works of art.
Actor and musician Evan Ross was the featured artist for the show, which also displayed the works of artists Mark Jacobs, Ashley Martelle, Christopher Jordan, Jason Marello and Pulse.
Ross displayed “The Rat Pack Collection” – seven paintings dedicated to the famous group of entertainers, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. The collection also featured portraits of “friends of the Rat Pack,” including Muhammad Ali and Bob Dylan. Ross said he chose The Rat Pack because he admired how they supported each other’s careers despite their individual successes.
Known to most from his work as an actor and musician, it was the first time Ross has shown his artwork publicly. However, those close to him are well aware of Ross’ skills as an artist. “I’ve been doing this my entire life,” Ross said. “It took me a while to figure out whether I wanted to show it to the world.”
The time he spent deciding whether to display his art was well spent, as it allowed Ross to settle on a style and flow, he said. Ross said he used markers to draw each painting that was on display at the Freedom United show.
In her first show as well, model Ashley Martelle displayed her artwork, which featured Warner Bros. character Lola Bunny in some hip-hop’s most iconic poses, including Lil Kim’s “Hard Core” album cover. “I wanted to show respect to the iconic people…Lil Kim, Tupac and also today’s artists, such as Nicki Minaj,” Martelle said.
Pop culture, specifically hip-hop, was a common theme in the portraits on display at the Freedom Unite show. Artist Christopher John showed his paintings, which recreated some of the most iconic photos from the history of pop music, including photos from Tupac, the Notorious B.I.G, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley and David Bowie, who John featured in several paintings. “I gravitate to people that captivate me,” John said. “Either it’s the person that shot their photograph or just the essence of who they (the artists) are.”
Veteran artist Mark Jacobs displayed several vibrant paintings that were in the mode of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Tim Burton, and primitive in nature. “I love showing art next to artists that have completely different styles than mine so people get to see a whole range of artwork,” Jacobs said.
A number of celebrities were on hand to support Evan Ross, the artists and the cause, including Ross’ siblings Ross Naess and Tracee Ellis Ross, and wife, Ashlee Simpson-Ross. Ross’ father-in-law, Joe Simpson, was on hand to support, as were model Shaun Ross, actor Boris Kodjoe, actress Tara Reid and actor Damien Dante Wayans.
The Freedom United Foundation is dedicated to providing food, water, shelter and medicine to those in need.
Human Nature video and photos are below