×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

New Abortion Ban Laws Take Center Stage at MOCA Gala

Forty years ago in Los Angeles, the decision to invest millions in a museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art — not to mention its formerly desolate downtown location, where the vibe was more apocalyptic than artsy — was a risky proposition. But now that the city’s cultural heart has shifted south of Hollywood, it seems visionary.

And thanks to the Museum of Contemporary Art’s new director Klaus Biesenbach, what once seemed bound to be a big flop was buzzy on Saturday night, with the MOCA Benefit gala attracting an eclectic crowd that included punk rockers (Patti Smith) and politicians (Mayor Eric Garcetti) as well as pop stars (Katy Perry and Ricky Martin) and leading men (Keanu Reeves and Orlando Bloom) to its benefit.

“I’m excited about Klaus leading the museum because he has a vision and he’s someone who is willing to take risks,” said the Mayor of Los Angeles and unlikely art aficionado, Eric Garcetti. “Contemporary art has always been about destroying the rules, not abiding by them,” he added. Take, for example, nearby guest Barbara Kruger, the artist whose overtly feminist work “Untitled (Your Body is a Battleground)” is suddenly more timely today than when she created it in 1989.

Klaus Biesenbach, Maria Seferian, Carolyn Powers, Eric Garcetti. Director of MOCA, Klaus Biesenbach, from left, Maria Seferian, Carolyn Powers, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, attend the 2019 MOCA benefit at the Geffen Contemporary, in Los Angeles2019 MOCA Benefit, Los Angeles, USA - 18 May 2019
CREDIT: Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

“Destroying the rules” — specifically abortion bans — pretty much summed up the cocktail conversation before dinner. Even the mayor couldn’t focus on city politics at the moment. “It seems like half a century ago we had long passed a moment when men would legislate what women can do with their bodies — and yet, just look at the laws in Alabama and Georgia and now Missouri,” he told Variety. “When Pat Robertson is saying the [Alabama] law goes ‘too far,’ it’s just crazy.”

For actor James Marsden, it’s infuriating — and the importance of being an ally was all he would talk about. “We should stay and fight,” the “Westworld” star told Variety. “Very succinctly: I believe it’s a woman’s right to choose what she wants to do with her own body. It’s appalling to me that this is still an issue.”

Ironically, the only person who wasn’t discussing this issue was artist and typically outspoken activist Patti Smith. But as the event’s headliner, she was dealing with a more pressing problem — her pianist canceled. Somehow her close friend Biesenbach talked her into playing with “a young man I’ve never met,” as Smith described actor Keegan Allen. Perhaps only in LA — and where else but MOCA? — could one see legendary musicians like Patti Smith and guitarist Lenny Kaye perform an Elvis Presley cover with the star of “Pretty Little Liars.” But then Smith has made a career out of taking risks, and tonight was no exception.

Her own feelings about the anti-abortion movement were ultimately expressed through song. But instead of voicing frustration or anger, Smith ended the evening on an optimistic note with her 1988 ode to peaceful protest, “People Have the Power.” As the crowd sang along to the lyrics about “wrestling the earth from fools” and “turning the world around,” she pumped her fist in the air and improvised a lyric about voting: “Don’t forget it,” Smith shouted. “Use your voice!” Needless to say, her plea struck a perfect chord.

More Music

  • Nick Cannon poses for a portrait

    Nick Cannon on His New Radio Morning Show Gig: 'I'm Not New to Multitasking'

    Television host, comedian, actor, producer, rapper, and children’s book author Nick Cannon will now add radio host to his long list of endeavors. He’s Power 106’s new morning show host, coming on the heels of J Cruz’s move to Los Angeles competitor Real 92.3 for the afternoon slot. The SoCal native recently shot the 15th [...]

  • Rapper Drake attends the game between

    Drake Drops Two New Songs to Celebrate Toronto Raptors' NBA Triumph

    As promised, Drake dropped two new songs Saturday to celebrate the Toronto Raptors’ NBA championship win, “Omertà” and “Money in the Grave” (featuring Rick Ross) — the first new songs he’s dropped so far this year, although he recently appeared on songs by former foes Meek Mill and Chris Brown. Apart from some wording on the image [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE

    Watch Taylor Swift Give Surprise Performance at LGBT Landmark Stonewall Inn

    Taylor Swift is doubling down on her pro-LGBT activity during Pride month: Less than 24 hours after she dropped her new single “You Need to Calm Down,” which includes shout-outs to GLAAD and the LGBT community, she made a surprise appearance before about 100 people at the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village, the [...]

  • Nick Cannon King of the Dancehall

    Nick Cannon Joins L.A.'s Power 106 as Morning Show Host

    Nick Cannon is adding another hosting job to his resume. The entertainment renaissance man will join KPWR-FM (“Power 106”), Los Angeles’ top hip-hop radio station, as the morning show’s main host and producer. “Nick Cannon Mornings” will launch this Monday, June 17, and air from 5 to 10 a.m.  “Power 106 is one of the [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Lawsuit Expected Next Week in Response to Universal Music Fire

    A Los Angeles law firm representing several Universal Music recording artists affected by the 2008 fire that destroyed a huge number of master recordings is expected to file a lawsuit as early as next week. King told Variety that he expects to sue for negligence and other torts. He declined to identify his clients, saying [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content