Singers and artists come together for Planned Parenthood

Rock For Our Rights

Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic will be the beneficiary of a benefit auction and cocktail party on Friday, September 28, at Tutto Il Giorno in Sag Harbor, followed by a concert at the Bay Street Theater. The event begins at 5 PM at the restaurant, and moves to the theater, and there are different levels of ticket prices. All proceeds go toward PPHP’s programs on the East End for health services, education, and advocacy for reproductive rights.

Rock for Our Rights is curated by Pamela Willoughby and features art from some popular names; Linda Alpern, Marissa Bridge, Delta 2, Robert Otto Epstein, Eric Fischl, Dora Frost, Tara Israel, Nathan Slate Joseph, Martine Langatta, Noel De Lesseps, Matt Magee, Steve Miller, Christine Newman, Dalton Portella, Sarah Prescott, Mason Saltarrelli, Bastienne Schmidt, Blair Seagram, Agathe Snow, Cynthia Talmadge, Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson, Athos Zacharias, and April Gornik.

Live music will be performed by Nona Hendryx (LaBelle) with Vernon Reid of Living Colour, Zach Zunis Band, and special guest Big Pete. The concert is produced by Bronte Zunis with music producer Danny Kapilian and coordinator Nitchie Zunis.

Indy spoke with artist April Gornik; Jenifer Van Deinse, director of development at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic; producer Bronte Zunis; and curator Pamela Willoughby.

Is this the inaugural Rock for Our Rights? Do you have plans for future events?

Jenifer Van Deinse: This idea for this event came from 16-year-old East Hampton resident Bronte Zunis, a passionate supporter of the Planned Parenthood mission. She recognizes the disparity in reproductive health education in schools on Long Island and wanted to create awareness of the breadth of services Planned Parenthood offers. It is thanks to her vision and tireless efforts that this event got off the ground in a very short amount of time.

PPHP has wanted to offer an event like this to the local community. We are indebted also to Pamela Willoughby who curated some fantastic pieces for the art auction. We have the works of 23 artists, including April Gornik and Eric Fischl, available to purchase. The East End art community has long supported Planned Parenthood and we are extremely grateful to them for their generosity. We would love to build on the success of this event for the future.

What type of music will be performed? The photo used in the event flyer sends a message of female empowerment.

JVD: Nona Hendryx and Vernon Reid will bring down the house with a soulful mix of rock/fusion/funk. They have something special in mind for our event, but they’re keeping it under wraps for now. As longtime supporters, they recognize the importance of supporting Planned Parenthood. More than 2.4 million patients rely on Planned Parenthood annually for high-quality, affordable health care.

Why is Planned Parenthood important to the East End community?

JVD: For 85 years, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic has served the community and is dedicated to educating and empowering individuals to make responsible choices regarding their sexuality and sexual health. Planned Parenthood is one of the largest providers of sexual and reproductive health education in the country.

Our affiliate has five health centers in Suffolk County (in Riverhead, Patchogue, West Islip, Smithtown, and Huntington) and offers a full range of services, including prenatal care, well-woman exams, life-saving cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing, and abortion services. Our affiliate recently launched gender affirming care in our Smithtown health center.

How did you choose the artists that are involved?

Pamela Willoughby: All have homes or visit the East End frequently, having their roots here. All have their own experiences with Planned Parenthood. Each one — a loved one, friend, or their own children — had a story to tell. Mainly they believe in Planned Parenthood and will do anything to help raise consciousness at this time in history.

What sort of paintings can guests expect to see?

PW: First, the artists were sensitive with the nature of the art they each chose for this event. Eric Fischl’s work of the mother and daughter holding each other, wrapped in the American Flag was the perfect choice to be our banner artwork. Cynthia Talmadge made a drawing of a rose titled Crumpled Lord & Taylor, also apropos yet whimsical at the same time. As I gathered the work, there seemed to be an excitement, the artists really wanted to rise to the occasion. Another work that stands out in my mind is the quiet serenity of April Gornik’s Forest Light. Nathan Slate Joseph gave a signature small sculpture which he constructed just for this auction. Steve Miller made a print of the most exquisite tulips in black and white. But don’t take my word for it, visit all on our Paddle 8 auction.

Why the mix of music and art?

PW: Both are the highest forms of art and such an enjoyable experience when mixed together. A feast for the eyes and spirit.

Amid a politically heated climate, do you find the timing of this benefit especially important?

April Gornik: Absolutely, we have to remember why our rights are important, and the great and expansive work that Planned Parenthood has represented since long before Roe v. Wade.

Why is Planned Parenthood important to the East End community?

AG: There’s no Planned Parenthood in America that’s not important to its community. So many women I know obtained their first birth control there or had their first gynecological exam there.

Do you have a personal story involving the organization you’d like to share?

AG: I first got the pill at a Planned Parenthood, and went there for exams subsequently. I can’t imagine having gone somewhere else, and it’s always seemed a lifeline to me for all women of reproductive age.

What does an event like this mean to women and young girls of today/tomorrow?

AG: It celebrates women, and choice, and self-reliance. That will always be something important to young girls for their self-esteem and their futures.

Bronte Zunis: Just the simple act standing together demonstrates that there are so many people with us and for us, and is alone an incredibly powerful affirmation.

Women have endured and prevailed and will continue to overcome everything that is thrown at us. Just showing up to an event such as Rock for Our Rights and being vocal about your support for PPHP and women’s rights is an inspiring and an empowering indication of strength. It’s what I hope will become one more building block towards shaping a better future for young girls and young women like myself.

Lower priced tickets are for the concert only, which begins at 7 PM at Bay Street. The $250 tickets includes the pre-concert cocktail party and benefit auction at Tutto Il Giorno. Tickets are available at www.baystreet.org, and the art can be bid on in advance of the auction at www.paddle8.com/auction/planned-parenthood.

nicole@indyeastend.com