Danny Simmons

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For other people named Daniel Simmons, see Daniel Simmons.

Daniel "Danny" Simmons, Jr. is a neo-African abstract expressionist painter and the older brother of hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons and rapper Joseph Simmons ("Reverend Run" of Run–D.M.C.). He is the co-founder and Chairman of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation (since 1995), which provides disadvantaged urban youth with arts access and education.[1] As part of Rush Philanthropic, Simmons also founded Rush Arts Gallery and soon thereafter converted part of his loft in Brooklyn into the Corridor Gallery. Both galleries provide exhibition opportunities to early and mid-career artists who do not have commercial representation through galleries or private dealers. Along with his brother Russell, Simmons established Def Poetry Jam, which has enjoyed long-running success on HBO.[2] In 2004, Simmons published Three Days As the Crow Flies, a fictional account of the 1980s New York art scene. He has also written a book of artwork and poetry called I Dreamed My People Were Calling But I Couldn't Find My Way Home.

Early life[edit]

Simmons is the son of Daniel Simmons, Sr., a truant officer and black history professor who also wrote poetry, and Evelyn Simmons, a teacher who painted as a hobby. He earned a degree in social work from New York University and a master's in public finance from Long Island University. He began painting after he realized how much he hated his job with the Bureau of Child Support.[3]in 2012 he received an honorary PhD in fine arts from Long Island University.

Art work[edit]

Simmons, an abstract expressionist painter, has had his work shown nationally. Chase Manhattan Bank, the United Nations, and the Schomburg Center for Black Culture all show his work as part of their collections. He is also an avid collector of African art and comic books.[2]

Def Poetry Jam[edit]

Simmons is the co-executive producer of Russell Simmons' Def Poetry.[4] Def Poetry currently runs on HBO and recently started its sixth season. Simmons came up with the idea for the series when a group of Simmons's friends would gather and perform open mikes at art galleries in the early 1990s. The poets did shows at the Nuyorican, Danny's home, and an art gallery in Manhattan. Simmons then asked his younger brother Russell about extending the "Def Jam" name in a new direction. After many more live events and showcases Danny and his associates Stan Lathan, Bruce George and Bob Sumner managed to launch "Def Poetry Jam" as both a cable show and a Broadway play.[5]


  • Simmons, Daniel (June 2003). Three Days As The Crow Flies. Atria Books. ISBN 0-7434-6640-3. 

See also[edit]