“Dear Ivanka”: New York City’s Artists Appeal to Ivanka Trump, Peer to Peer
Early last week, a new Instagram account called @dear_ivanka posted a photo of Ivanka Trump in a low-cut top and purple lipstick. Beneath the image was a caption: “Dear Ivanka, I’m afraid of the swastikas spray painted on my park.”
In the following days, the account posted more glamour shots of the President-elect’s eldest daughter, many of them poached from her own Instagram page. Each image was paired with a message asking her to recognize the fear and anxiety that her father’s victory has aroused. A shot of Ivanka posing on a golf course wearing gold jewelry and a single white glove was accompanied by the message “@dear_ivanka: Your father’s choice to head up the EPA, Myron Ebell, is a fanatical anti-science, anti-environmentalist climate change denier. I’m afraid for what’s at stake.” Under a screenshot of Ivanka wearing a ten-thousand-dollar bracelet during an appearance on “60 Minutes” were the words “@dear_ivanka I’m concerned that your dad and your family are using the highest office in our land for personal financial gain.”
The people behind @dear_ivanka are two members of the New York City art world, Alison Gingeras, a curator, and Jonathan Horowitz, a multimedia artist, who post some of the entries themselves and receive others as submissions. They were inspired to address Ivanka directly because she is, in some ways, a member of their extended social circle. Where Donald Trump is known for commissioning oversized portraits of himself, and once complained that a black-and-white Andy Warhol depiction of Trump Tower “wasn’t color-coördinated,” Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, are avid collectors of contemporary art. “She frequents the art world, what’s sometimes called ‘the New York liberal bubble,’ ” Gingeras told me. “So we already know we can speak with her, and we want to appeal to her personal stakes.”
On Monday evening, Gingeras and Horowitz gathered with some hundred and fifty artists and art-world figures in SoHo for an L.E.D.-candle-lit vigil to appeal to Ivanka I.R.L. They met in front of the Kushner-owned Puck Building, whose most lavish penthouse apartment is one of the most expensive homes in the city. (Jared and Ivanka live on the Upper East Side.) Crowd members distributed protest signs that riffed on art history. One set, designed in the Pop-art style by the artist Peter McGough, showed Ivanka’s name spelled out in a pink font reminiscent of the lettering found on Barbie packaging, with the slogans “You’re in over your head” and “Let Pence know LGBT people can’t be converted.” Others, made by the multimedia artist Rachel Libeskind, depicted eighteenth-century-style Russian Orthodox icons with Ivanka’s face superimposed on them—because she’s a big icon in Russia now. On the opposite sidewalk, outside the R.E.I. on Houston Street, a single picketer held a sign that said “YOU LOST.”
The artist Marilyn Minter, whose erotically tinged photographs are the subject of a current retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, and whom Ivanka follows on Instagram, carried a sign that combined “Grab them by the pussy” with a fart joke. She told me that it’s worth appealing to Ivanka “because she’s the most sympathetic, the softer side of Trumpism, and we think she’s potentially one of us.”
Some of the protesters had dealt with the Trump-Kushner couple in business or through art sales, and some were personally acquainted through old New York connections or art-world friendships. The shoe designer Arden Wohl, who was wearing a bright-red military-style coat and dark lipstick, told me, “I grew up with Ivanka—we went to Trinity and Dalton. She has always had a good head on her shoulders.” On @dear_ivanka, a shot of a younger Wohl and Ivanka partying together, submitted by Wohl, appeared with the caption “@dear_ivanka will you keep another Jew like me safe from Steve Bannon and the KKK?”
The group headed over to Varick and Spring streets to the Trump SoHo hotel. Sporadic chants of “Tell Daddy no!” broke out as they walked. Policemen arrived in vans to ask people not to jaywalk.
Ivanka’s art purchases occasionally make appearances in the background of her Instagram images. A photo posted last week featured Ivanka standing in front of a painting by the artist Alex Da Corte—a gradation of faded pastel colors, made of boiled shampoo painted onto an IKEA mirror. Da Corte had discovered the image and commented, “Dear @ivankatrump please get my work off of your walls. I am embarrassed to be seen with you.”
Artists can’t always control who buys their work, or where the things they make end up. Wohl suggested that one way artists could repudiate Donald Trump’s Presidency would be to disown works that are owned by the Trump-Kushners, causing them to lose value.
Another approach is to exert old-fashioned peer pressure. The painter Cecily Brown, who joined up with the marchers late, said she hoped Ivanka might still care, “just a tiny bit,” about the approval of New York’s cultural community. “You might hope against hope that she wants to walk through the city with her head held up.” Jordan Wolfson, a sculptor and multimedia artist represented by David Zwirner, told me, “In four years, I’d love to see if Ivanka can get a reservation at a nice restaurant in New York.”