Friday, September 21, 2007

Pop Goes The Modern Ball at SFMOMA

SFMOMA Modern Ball: It's in the can.
Andy Warhol, King of Pop at the San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art

By Jeanne Lawrence

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) wowed the crowds with its second biennale The Modern Ball. The splashy bash, Andy Warhol, King of Pop, raised a record $2 million from the 2,000 late-night revelers who made the scene.

SFMOMA Trustee and former Board Chair, Elaine McKeon chaired the event, along with current Board Chair, Charles Schwab and his wife, Helen Schwab. There was something for everyone at every price: three distinct parties to choose from.

Valets a la Warhol.
The Red Room of the Gala Dinner.
The Gala Dinner, a five-star meal with a live auction and entertainment, was for the heavy hitters and major museum supporters. 

The Supper Club catered to the younger set
and featured a hip and stylish lounge with reserved tables, a buffet, live music, and an open bar.

Then, The Post-Modern Party opened the fun to an even larger segment of smart, young San Franciscans with a museum-wide extravaganza, complete with live entertainment, gourmet nibbles, drinks, and dancing.

Party planner extraordinaire Stanlee Gatti and producer Rita Barela went all out to create an unforgettable evening. It began outside with a line of "Andy" valets dressed in black turtlenecks and white Warhol wigs greeting incoming guests.

Inside, The Factory - Warhol's infamous studio, where art, movies and reputations were made - was reinvented for one fabulous night.

The Gala Dinner started in the five-story Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. (Levi Strauss family descendants) Atrium. The company that turned blue jeans into an American icon is now pairing up with artist Damien Hirst to create a special line of jeans next spring under its "Warhol Factory X Levi's" label. Oh, the synergy

At the Gala reception, the champagne flowed, and caviar was abundant amidst decorations inspired by Warhol's infamous red couch, "where everything imaginable happened," according to Gatti.

Gatti's own imagination concocted the gigantic tinfoil tent - a silver Mylar wonderland that mimicked the original Factory. Stacks of giant Campbell Tomato Soup cans created centerpieces while ordinary cans doubled as place cards. Even the chairs and tables got "souped-up "

Surrealist go-go dancers gyrated on pedestals as guests took their seats.  After a dinner of lamb chop perfection, neverending wine was poured courtesy of the always generous Robert and Margrit Mondavi and family.

Master party planner Stanlee Gatti
My table included big-time art collectors, board members and two of the city's top fashionistas, Norah and Norman Stone. Of course, Norman was wearing vintage Versace - a lace shirt circa 1985. "Versace knew how to make men sexy," Norman said. "He had the touch." 

After dinner, showman Gatti hopped on stage, in a custom made black jacket with a Warhol quote stitched on back, "The only woman I fear in America is Denise Hale," (meaning the widow of Prentis Cobb Hale, of Carter Hawley Hale department store). Gatti joked, "He didn't know Dede," referring to Dede Wilsey, the Fine Arts Museums Board President, who remained unfazed by the ribbing.

"Denise is having dinner with Graydon Carter in New York City," he added.  Maybe she needed a break after that tell-all book from her step-children, something else the two grande dames have in common. 

The anointed auctioneer for the night was Mark Buell, husband of Susie Tompkins, one of the founders of Esprit clothing.  One of the best in memory, the auction featured a glam-tech video presentation of the packages so you actually could see what you were bidding on. 

The bidding followed the trend set in May when Warhol's Green Car Crash sold at Christie's auction house for a record $71.7 million, quadrupling the previous record of $17.4 million for Mao, also sold at Christie's last November.
Eileen Michaels
Norman and Norah Stone
Marissa Meyer (in Oscar de la Renta) and Jack Bowan
This incredible auction raised more than $270,000. Here's a sampling: 

• The Art of Seduction: Art Basel Miami Beach: VIP access and a stay at  South Beach's Setai Hotel with private escorted visits around town.

• Do-si-do through the Art of Texas on NetJets private plane to Donald Judd's famed Chinati Foundation in Marfa with a stay at the beautiful Cibolo Creek Ranch, then on to Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth for other collections and museums.  (Loved it when Buell described this trip, "You can smoke in Texas " referring to California's 1998 smoking ban ... way ahead of NYC).

• Appetite for Indulgence:  California Wine Country:  dinner at Thomas Keller's French Laundry, wine tours and tasting led by Master Sommelier Frenchman Gilles de Chambure, and dinner at the exclusive Napa Valley Reserve.

• The Posh Life:  London: a stay at the Ritz, tea with Sir Evelyn and Lady de Rothschild, dinner with internationally acclaimed architect Lord Richard Rogers and his wife, Ruth, private art visits, and dinners at the River Café and The Wolseley Restaurant.

Summer Tompkins Walker, Mark Buell, and Susie Tompkins Buell
After the auction, Buell introduced Elaine McKeon, as "the Museum's heart and soul for many years." Always a lady, silver haired Elaine looked smashing in her white and silver Andrew Gin tunic, causing my dinner partner to exclaim, "That's how I want to look when I grow up."

McKeon thanked the lead sponsors, Helen and Chuck Schwab, "who chaired the first museum Ball and showed me the way." The best part: the entire evening was underwritten by private donations so not a penny went toward producing the event. All the proceeds went directly to the Museum.

It seemed everyone was there. Political leaders: Mayor Gavin Newsom; former Mayor Willie Brown with Sonya Molodetskaya; former Mayor Frank Jordan and his wife, Wendy Paskin Jordan; District Attorney Kamala Harris; and California Chief Justice Ronald George and his wife, Barbara.

Museum honchos: SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra; recent Board Chair Steven Oliver and his wife, Nancy Oliver; and Board President Richard Greene and his wife, Lorrie Greene.

The old guard mingled with the new guard: Ann and Gordon Getty; music legend Lars Ulrich from seminal rock band Metallica and actress Connie Nielsen; Barbara and Gerson Bakar; and Danielle and Brooks Walker, Jr. (of Minnesota's Walker Art Center family founders).

Katie Schwab was also there, along with Charlotte Shultz; Nancy and Joachim Bechtle; Lee Hudson (whose mother was the late Princess "Titi" von Furstenberg); Helen Hilton Riser; Curt Alexander; Trish and Don Shepherd; Daniel Lurie and Becca Prowda; and Christie's Ellanor and Russ Notides.

Party chair Elaine McKeon in Andrew Gin
Other supporters: Shawn and Brook Byers; art dealers Gretchen and John Berggruen;  McKeon's daughters, Eileen (with husband Peter Michaels) and Cathy Topham (with her husband, Neal and their son, Neddie); Mimi Haas; Summer Tompkins Walker; art patron Cissie Swig; Margrit Mondavi; nightclub impresario Harry Denton; and New York designers Andy and Kate Spade.

Rounding out the attendees were longtime magazine executive Chris Boskin with her husband, Stanford Professor of Economics and Senior Fellow at the university's Hoover Institution, Michael Boskin. (The Institution has also recently appointed former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a distinguished visiting fellow.)

Newcomer Von Lee Smith performed to a receptive audience. Gatti gushed over his discovery of the young soul singer on YouTube. The blue jean-clad 20–year-old from Kansas sang "Over the Rainbow" and "And I am Telling You" from Dreamgirls. "He can't even drink, but remember his name, you're gonna hear it again," Stanlee promised. 

Next door, another dinner was on at the Supper Club. Designed with seating at green AstroTurf tables and banquettes on a floor inscribed with "The Grass is Not Greener In the Other Tent," the club was built as a homage to Warhol's short film, Grass.

Among those who generously reserved a table for friends was bicoastal fashion designer Julie Chaiken, whose SoHo showroom attracts such celebrity devotees as Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon, Brooke Shields, and Oprah Winfrey. Between jetting to London for an eyewear license and fabric shopping in Paris, Chaiken has found time to design a spring collection reminiscent of Mediterranean summers that will show at Fashion Week in Bryant Park in September.

And, Keith and Claudia Ross, New Yorkers Lori Levine and Nina Sargent; Christopher and Amber Marie Bently; Julie and Joe Veronese (who is running for State Senate); Shell and Craig Cardon; Kimberly Bakker; and Jennifer Siebel (always on the arm of Mayor Newsom).
Andrew and Karina Houghton
Trish and Don Stephens
More celebrants: ballet dancer Peter Brandenhoff;  MOMA Board member and Ralph Lauren GM Cathy Post; Holly Baxter; Kim  Wilsey; Olympic gold medalist, skier Jonny Moseley; and the four young and handsome men that have taken over the nightclub and restaurant scene in the city for the 30's set, the founders of  Vintage 415: Nate Valentine, Todd Palmerton, Demetrius Chapin-Rienzo, and Lawrence Vavra.

At nine, SFMOMA opened up for a museum-wide after-party with live performances by Larry "T-Byrd" Gordon and local favorites Salvador Santana, DJ Earworm, and Scissors for Lefty.

Those at the dinners mingled with the new arrivals and it was a great scene: a dance floor filled with all ages, schmoozing and grooving. Writer Jennifer Riser described the evening best: "Like a Bar Mitzvah in the Foil Room, Elton John in the Astroturf Room, and a post modern high school dance in the Foyer where everyone is checking each other out." What a happening.

When the dreaded words, "Valet closes in 15 minutes" were heard, the more prudent guests headed next door to the St. Regis for a nightcap in order to avoid the mad scramble - proving there's more than one way to spend your "15 minutes" of fame

Everyone agreed the evening was a hit. I think Andy would have been amused. But could anyone ever tell with that guy?
Kate and Andrew Spade
Caroline and Preston Butcher
Billy and Vanessa Getty
Charlot and Gregory Malin
Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein
Helen Hilton Riser, Phillip Riser, Victoria Hadden, and Jennifer Raiser
Dede Wilsey and Lee Hudson
The Gala Dinner Reception
Like being inside a Jiffy Pop bag
Alexis Swanson Traina and Trevor Traina
Danielle and Brooks Walker
New Yorker Lori Levine
A moving centerpiece
Paul Pelosi and Charlotte Schultz
Then try to find your seat in a sea of tomato
Dr. John Owsley and Sharon Owsley
Michael Boskin, Judy Siebel, and Mayor Gavin Newsom
Metallica's Lars Ulrich and Ann Getty
Nightclub impresario Harry Denton and Thomas Bridges
Charles Ward, SF DA Kamala Harris, and Mark Buell
California Chief Justice Ronald George and Barbara George with Jeanne Lawrence
Former Mayor Frank Jordan and his wife Wendy Paskin Jordan surrounded by friends
Auctioneer Mark Buell
Find yourself in a can of soup
Director Neal Benezra
Ode to Grass
More Green Room ... notice Bobby Short's photo
Helen and Chuck Schwab enjoying the Supper Club too
Singer Von Lee Smith, of YouTube fame
Curt Alexander with fashion designer Julie Chaiken
Mayors helping Mayors: Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom
Elaine McKeon and Stanlee Gatti in his tribute jacket
Keith and Claudia Ross
Jennifer Pitt, Nicole Nastari, and Katie Schwab
Joan and Tony Stracquadanio
Larry "T-Byrd" Gordon
Indie rockers Scissors for Lefty
Kim Wilsey
Victoria Richardson
Frank Alizaga Jr. and Kristen Martin (in Valentino)
Abigail Munn (in Dark Garden)
Cissie Swig
Chris Bently and Amber Marie Bently
Party favors from sponsors Bliss and SF Magazine
Alexander Lloyd and friends
Allison Speer and Reed Woodson of NYC
Merkley with Hannah Sitzer
Elba McIntosh, Rich Denny, Christina Bosemark, and Rob Markovich
Catherine and Evan Krow
The Salvador Santana Band
Scissors For Lefty get a little more Warhol'd
The Supper Club
Kudos to SF MOMA staff!

Photographs by Drew Altizer and Jeanne Lawrence
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