AG: How did you become involved with Planned Parenthood?
MM: Around two years ago, I took a photo of the man [Chris Salgardo] who runs Kiehl’s, who I love, to raise money for Art Production Fund. We started talking and he explained that Kiehl’s partners with artists on projects and in-store installations, then donates what would be the artist’s fee to their favorite charity. I’m a political junkie and always have been, so I decided to take him up on that—take a photo that would become an installation in their store. My day fee for a commercial job is $25,000, so that went to Planned Parenthood—and I handed them a check at the launch event.
AG: Why was Planned Parenthood your charity of choice?
MM: That was 2014, and laws were being passed that were shaving women’s right to make their own choices with their bodies. We hadn’t had to worry about that kind of thing since Bill Clinton was elected—we thought that war was over. Laurie, Cindy, and I—and so many others—worked so hard for abortion rights in the ’70s and ’80s, and all of a sudden that work started to unravel. Planned Parenthood has been attacked more in the last 2 years than in the last 20.
I remember hearing a radio segment, while working in the studio, that detailed how officials were trying to systematically—and quietly—eliminate individual Planned Parenthood centers throughout the country by tweaking state laws so that it’d be harder and harder and harder for them to operate—and it was working. I was incensed. But soon after, people—and public figures—started getting behind Planned Parenthood publicly. Lena Dunham was one of the first, and all the women who contributed to her PSA
, and then Miley [Cyrus], and now Marc [Jacobs]. Maybe he’ll convince other companies to support, too. Marc doesn’t give a shit [about offending people], just like I don’t. Artists don’t care about pushback. Back in the ’60s,
made anti-Vietnam posters.
AG: Do artists have a responsibility to be advocates?
M: No, they don’t. It’s totally up to each individual artist, but most of us lean left. The only reason I stepped up this time is because I have a voice now. Before, I was just another marcher. I was never articulate enough to do more. I’m still not, but I’ve always been passionate and idealistic. When Bush won the election I sat in the fetal position playing Bejeweled for four hours.
AG: What happened when Obama was elected?
MM: I was on cloud nine. My dealer, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, is very political too. She’s organized two fundraisers for Obama, and she’ll probably do something for Hillary. You know, dealers rarely do that, because a lot of collectors are Republicans—well, maybe they’re embarrassed Republicans right now.
AG: You organized a very lucrative benefit auction for Planned Parenthood last year, and managed to get a lot of high-profile artists to donate lots. How?
MM: Well, Gina Nanni, my gallery’s press person, and I started brainstorming with Planned Parenthood after the Kiehl’s project, and we realized that there hadn’t been an auction in long time. But it couldn’t just be any auction. We knew we had to target artists who make real money—the big boys.
I couldn’t wrangle them myself, but there’s strength in numbers, so we asked Cindy and Laurie to be involved—they said yes immediately. Then Amy Cappellazzo helped us figure out which artists make the most money at auctions, and we started reaching out to them to donate. Cecily Brown was the first to agree—she gave us a $350,000 painting.
gave us an $85,000 piece, Richard Prince immediately gave us a totally saleable painting, and so did
, Richard Serra, and
. Brice was actually going to give us a bigger piece, but his dealer made him give something smaller. I understand the reluctance, because you don’t want your artists at auction. But there was an alternative:
didn’t want to be at auction, but he gave us cash instead!
AG: And this year, you expanded your sights beyond the art world and asked Miley Cyrus to be involved. Why her?
MM: Because she’s an activist. And because we were trying to bridge the generation gap by involving a young star with young fans—she has 40.5 million Instagram followers.
She’s been famous since she was 11 and she’s a great artist, so she doesn’t care about making money—she wants to give back. She founded the Happy Hippie Foundation, which supports LGBTQ youth. She flies commercial because she’s conscious of her carbon footprint. Now she’s going to help us with Planned Parenthood.
AG: What can young people who don’t have 40 million Instagram followers do to effect change?
MM: You have to just get loud. There’s so much power in solidarity. Find like-minded people. Do whatever you can to support your cause. Be an escort to the people who have to walk through the crowds of protesters at Planned Parenthood. Volunteer. You’re fighting for yourself, your daughters, your grandchildren—for their own self-preservation as women.