Actress and activist Jane Fonda is partnering with Gagosian and Christie’s for a two-part benefit aimed at raising funds to combat a referendum on California’s November ballot that would repeal a 2022 state law limiting where oil can be drilled.

Titled “Art for a Safe and Healthy California,” the benefit in Beverly Hills will kick off on April 9, with several works donated by leading artists on view. Hosted by dealer Larry Gagosian, philanthropist and activist Aileen Getty, and Democratic Party mega-donors Susie and Mark Buell, the event will also include a performance by John Legend.

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The works will be offered for sale in two ways: during a day sale at Christie’s in May and as part of a selling exhibition at Gagosian’s Beverly Hills location this summer.

Among the artists who have donated works are Ed Ruscha, Christina Quarles, Joey Terrill, Charles Gaines, Karon Davis, Olafur Eliasson, Frank Gehry, Alex Israel, Marilyn Minter, Catherine Opie, Nan Goldin, Mark Grotjahn, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Jackie Amézquita, Hank Willis Thomas, and Jonas Wood, among others.

In a statement, Fonda said, “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. I am so fortunate to have Larry Gagosian and his LA team, in addition to the team at Christie’s, by my side as we continue to pursue a safer and healthier California.”

The proceeds raised in both sales will benefit the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California, which describes itself as “a coalition of public health professionals, environmental justice groups, community and faith leaders, and youth joining together to stand up to Big Oil and make sure that no Californians have to endure health hazards from living just steps from dangerous oil wells,” according to the campaign website.

Darryl Molina Sarmiento, executive director of nonprofit Communities for a Better Environment, which is a member of the Campaign, said in a statement, “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. 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!”

A painting on raw linen with the words 'UPS DOWNS' in white block letters with a blue mountain peak atop.
Ed Ruscha, UPS DOWNS, 2023.
Photo Brica Wilcox/©Ed Ruscha/Courtesy Gagosian

In September 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB1137, which prohibits new oil wells from being drilled within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, day care centers, parks, health care facilities, community resource centers, detention facilities, and certain businesses, as well as mandating that existing wells meet specific health, safety, and environmental requirements by 2025.

Per public policy blog CalMatters, some 2.7 million people in California “live within a few thousand feet of an oil well, public health advocates made their case that buffer zones were in the public interest, and their elected leaders responded,” which led to the passage of SB1137.

Within a few months of SB1137’s passage, a group called Stop the Energy Shutdown, a coalition of oil and gas industry groups, began collecting signatures to repeal the law through a voter referendum, according to the Associated Press. The referendum qualified for the 2024 ballot in early 2023.

In a release for the benefit, the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California said that the oil industry has spent $53 million to date and is currently spending $500,000 per week to repeal the 2022 law and keep drilling oil in California neighborhoods.  

In a statement, Larry Gagosian said, “Jane has been a great friend for over forty years, and an icon of the American cultural landscape since the 1960s. I have always admired her activism, and when she 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. 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.”