Artists Ed Ruscha, Marilyn Minter, and More Donate Works to Fight Big Oil

Their works will be included in a benefit auction and selling exhibition spearheaded by Gagosian, Christie's, and Jane Fonda.

Ed Ruscha, Ups Downs (2023). © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Brica Wilcox, courtesy Gagosian.

Larry Gagosian, Christie’s, and actor Jane Fonda are teaming up to launch Art for a Safe and Healthy California, a benefit auction and selling exhibition of works donated by leading contemporary artists to support environmental justice. Proceeds of the sale, scheduled for May, will go to the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California, a coalition of activists, doctors, and politicians fighting to protect Californians from toxic oil drilling.

The Art for a Safe and Healthy California auction includes works donated by contemporary artists including Karon Davis, Marilyn Minter, Charles Gaines, Hank Willis Thomas, Catherine Opie, Frank Gehry, Alex Israel, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Christina Quarles, Kenny Scharf, Jonas Wood, and Ed Ruscha, among many others. Pop artist Ruscha gifted one of his most recent creations, Ups Downs (2023), an acrylic on linen featuring his signature melding of text and image.

A selection of works will be auctioned as part of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale in May, while the rest will be sold in a Gagosian show in Beverly Hills later this summer.

“I am thrilled to be able to use my love of art to propel the fight against climate injustice while simultaneously uplifting the work of these talented and generous artists,” said Fonda, who helped get the initiative off the ground. “I am so fortunate to have Larry Gagosian and his L.A. team, in addition to the team at Christie’s, by my side as we continue to pursue a safer and healthier California.”

Specifically, the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California is trying to stop the repeal of SB1137, a 2021–22 bill passed by state governor Gavin Newson that prevents oil companies from drilling close to homes, parks, schools, and playgrounds, among other safety regulations.

“Youth and working families in frontline communities across California, have the right to breathe clean air and live in safe neighborhoods free from the constant health harms caused by oil drilling such as respiratory infections, asthma, reduced lung function, and childhood leukemia,” said Darryl Molina-Sarmiento, executive director of Communities for a Better Environment, which is part of the campaign’s coalition. “We have organized against Big Oil in our neighborhoods and in the legislature and we are organizing with these incredible artists to defeat them again,”

Art for a Safe and Healthy California launches on April 9 at an event in Los Angeles, where a number of the donated artworks—by Opie, Gehry, Minter, and more—will be on view.

“When [Fonda] brought this urgent David vs. Goliath cause to my attention, I didn’t hesitate. It’s an honor to partner with her on this crucial issue impacting my home state of California,” said Gagosian in a statement. “It’s a must-win in November, and I am incredibly grateful to the generous artists who are helping us ensure a safe and healthy California for generations to come.”

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