Wednesday, July 1, 2009

San Francisco Social Diary

Asian Art at San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza.
Sacred Arts of Mysterious Bhutan Visit the West at the Asian Art Museum
By Jeanne Lawrence

Opening night at the Asian Art Museum’s recent exhibit — “The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan”— was a sensational affair, made even more gorgeous by the Asian-inspired creations many in the crowd had chosen to wear. (Why didn’t I think of that?)

On a spring evening, guests sipped champagne, nibbled on dumplings and enjoyed the rare treasures from Bhutan, many never before seen in the Western world.

The Beaux Art-style Asian Art Museum is located in Civic Center Plaza. Formerly the city’s main library, in 2003 it was transformed by architect Gae Aulenti, who is also acclaimed for her design of Paris’s Musée d’Orsay.
Museum holds more than 17,000 Asian treasures, spanning 6,000 years.
Bhutan, the remote Himalayan kingdom.
Ritual Dancing.
Curator Emeritus Terese Tse Bartholomew in Bhutan.
With more than 17,000 treasures culled from 6,000 years of history, the museum has one of the most comprehensive Asian collections in the world.

The ancient kingdom of Bhutan is a remote Himalayan country the size of Switzerland, located east of Mount Everest and Nepal and bordered by India and Tibet. Its population is 700,000.

Some say mysterious Bhutan was the real-life inspiration for ‘Shangri-La,’ the exotic setting for “Lots Horizon,” the novel by James Hilton that Frank Capra turned into the unforgettably romantic film.
Asian Art Museum Director Jay Xu welcomes guests.
Ambassador Lhatu Wangchuk, Dr. Stephen Little and Penden Wangchuk, Secretary of Cultural Affairs.
Board and Commission Chair Dixon Doll and HRH Dasho Jigme Wangchuck.
Traditional Bhutanese hand embroidered shoes.
At the reception, I chatted with investment banker Richard Blum, the U.S. Honorary Consul to Mongolia and Nepal (and spouse of California Senator Dianne Feinstein). I thanked him again for steering me to visit Bhutan early in the early 1990s, before the Aman Hotel had been built and tourism became popular.

Blum was talking with HRH Dasho Jigme Wangchuck, the 23-year-old son of the former king of Bhutan, now a student in California; Ambassador Lhatu of the Permanent Bhutan Mission to the United Nations; and Penden Wangchuk, Secretary of Home & Cultural Affairs.

I followed guest curator Terese Bartholomew, Curator Emeritus of Chinese Decorative Arts and Himalayan Art at the Museum, as she expertly described the treasures displayed in “The Dragon’s Gift.”
Viewing the priceless treasures.
The great teacher and Saint Padmasambhava.
Austin Hills, HRH Dasho Jigme Wangchuck, Richard Blum, and Director Jay Xu.
Asian Appetizers were a favorite.
The show was an exceptionally rare opportunity to view around 150 of the most sacred and beloved Buddhist artifacts — paintings, sculptures, metalwork, and thangkas, the unique three-dimensional artwork produced jointly by painters and tailors.

For the duration of the show, two monks from a Bhutanese monastery performed daily purification rituals and puhja (prayers) at a colorful Buddhist altar.

On my trip to Bhutan over twenty years ago, I received a blessing from a monk in a remote monastery. I figured I was due for another!
Rarely seen objects.
Stupa, a Buddhist religious monument.
Buddhist Altar.
Prayer Wheels.
Dr. Madeleine Albright is Keynoter at Benefit for Children

Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, the former ambassador to the U.N. and Secretary of State, was the keynote speaker for a luncheon for the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center. She came on behalf of both the cause and her daughter, Katie Albright, the Center’s Executive Director.

“Being a mother is actually excellent training for high level diplomacy,” Dr. Albright said. “Negotiating with children about playground rules and bedtimes isn’t so different from trying to broker peace in the Middle East – except that, with children, the tantrums are less frequent and do not last for two thousand years.”

Timed to coincide with Child Abuse Prevention Month, which aims to raise community awareness of child abuse and neglect, the luncheon, the 12th Annual Blue Ribbon benefit, was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Madeleine K. Albright's new book.
The 35-year-old Center is located in an historic Haight-Ashbury firehouse. It had the first TalkLine crisis and counseling line in the country. Its volunteers are available 24/7 and field more than 13,500 calls yearly.

Dr. Albright was named ambassador to the U.N. in l993 and appointed by President Clinton to be Secretary of State in 1997, the first female to hold the post. Emcee Cheryl Jennings, the Emmy-Award-winning co-anchor of ABC affiliate KGO-TV, introduced Dr. Albright and interviewed her on air.

The author of three best-selling books, fluent in French, Czech and Russian, Dr. Albright currently serves as a distinguished professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington D.C.

Although the pre-luncheon buzz was that President Obama might appoint Dr. Albright Ambassador to France, she dispelled the rumor in a TV appearance on “The Late Late Show” the evening before.

Kudos to the luncheon co-chairs, Robert Callan, Jr. and Anne Symon, for setting records with this event. It was the Center’s best-attended and raised the most money ever — $300,000. Especially noteworthy in this economy.

One of the organization's founder's, Linda Cannon, said most guests at her table were so inspired that they made on-the-spot additional donations and vowed to return next year to support this worthy cause.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Cathy Topham
CAPC Co-Founder Linda Cannon with Dr. Madelaine Albright, Former US Secretary of State
Janice Barger and Kelly Halper
Chair Robert Callan, Jr., Madeleine K. Albright with her daughter Katie Albright and Anne Symon
Michele Alioto with sister Julie Farrah
Frank and Karen Caufield, Elaine McKeon, and Cathy Topham
Karen and Frank Caufield with Susie Tompkins Buell
Cheryl Jennings and Arjun Gupta
Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Madeleine K. Albright
Kip Oxman and Leslie de Bretteville
Anne Symon with Robert and Barbara Callan
Suzanne Bergeron, Jill Bouchard, and Nancy Chirinos
Sandra Farris and Ellen Ungermann
Ray Brown, Linda Cannon, and Kathy Baxter in the Ritz Carlton Garden
Alana Leigh and Alicia Hvistendahl
Photos by Julius Schulman and His Protégé, Andrew George, Are Featured in New Gallery

There may be all kinds of impressive cameras now available, but it takes a master’s eye to produce a photograph that’s a real work of art. The point was made once again at the new E6 Gallery at 1632 Market Street, which owner Robert Berman opened with a two-man show.
San Francisco - Robert Berman's E6 Gallery.
Reception for Los Angeles artist Andrew George.
It featured Julius Schulman, the 95-year-old photographer whose architectural images of modern homes defined California and especially Los Angeles in the popular imagination, and his protégé, Andrew George, whose large-scale photographs strikingly capture the effects of light.

Berman, whose other gallery is in Santa Monica, gathered an invitation-only crowd of local art aficionados, artists, curators, collectors and enthusiasts, on an unusually balmy April evening.
Eric, Barbara, Chris, Andrew, and California Chief Justice Ronald George.
Opening brought quite a crowd.
Guests included Andrew George’s parents, California’s Chief Justice Ronald George and his wife Barbara, and his brothers, Eric and Chris.

The show featured a series of never-before-seen Schulman photographs of the Bay Area in the 1930s and George’s collection of “Light Leaks,” which capture the way in which sliver of light illuminates an area with stunning results.
Andrew George's unique vision ...
San Francisco Chronicle art critic Kenneth Baker said, “[George] turns an old-fashioned technical glitch — a seepage of light — into a subject, seizing moments and settings where the quotient and incidence of light evoke a psychological report of a situation wider than the camera's view and the exposure's duration.”
Rhea Friend and Diane Chapman
Barbara George with OJ Shansby
Gretchen Leach and Barbara George.
George is also is also an award-winning writer, producer and director of television commercials, theater and new-media. He graduated from Bard College with a double major in literature and film, and then earned his Master of Fine Arts from Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design.

After the show, gallery guests in a festive spirit headed a few doors away to Judy Roger’s Zuni Café to enjoy her signature dishes: platters of fresh oysters and how-did-she-make-such-an-everyday-dish-so-spectacular roast chicken with bread salad.
Diane Kelly and Barbara George
Chris George with Frank Schultz
Chris George and Ana Maria Schneiderman
Marianne Sullivan, Barbara George, and Brian Isobe

The SF Junior League’s recent fashion show, the Art of Fashion, highlighted colorful designs for eveningwear, florals for day, neutrals for men, crisp white and blue as an ongoing theme, and a fun array of Bohemian styles (lots of tie-dye and jeans) for the younger set.

But the planners of the charity event were most focused on thinking green. (As you know, San Francisco is way ahead of the curve in that department.)

Accordingly, for both show options — a luncheon and a black-tie gala, both preceded by a VIP reception — the menu featured locally grown, organic cuisine.
Junior League Fashion Show at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill.
And under the direction of Co-Chair Victoria Yeager Sawyer, the show this year was powered by renewable energy. Of course, Junior Leaguers’ tots and teens, who often appear in the show with their parents, have long seemed to define “renewable energy” to me!

Celebrity models included Janelle Wong (“A View from the Bay) and John Sasaki (of KTVU). As always, I was dazzled by the aplomb of the “real people” strutting and looking like pros on the runway — even in swimsuits and under those unforgiving bright lights!
Adrian Sawyer and Michael Mulcahy.
Lorrae Romminger with male models.
Celebrity model Janelle Wong.
Children of Junior League members model.
At the Live Auction, which raised $100,000, The Paris Fashion Week caused such a flurry of bidding that the donor graciously offered a second week as well. The proceeds will fund local JLSF family programs that include tutoring, mentoring, educational workshops and cultural enrichment.

This show marked the 50th anniversary of the JLSF’s relationship with the Fairmont Hotel. The evening cocktail reception was held in its ultra-luxurious, Persian-inspired penthouse, where a night’s stay costs $12,500.
Judy Jorgensen and Gwinne Berexa (JLSF President) at VIP Luncheon Reception
Regina Yeager and Merrill Kasper at Luncheon VIP Reception
PR Chair Jennifer Marples, James Kyson Lee of NBC's Heroes and Alex Skillman
Patrons Chairs Courtney Bocci and Suzanne Rischman in Persian inspired penthouse
Abigail and Richard Baker with Anne Marie Massocca
Kim Hooker, Victoria Yeager Sawyer, Courtney Bocci, and Maggie Stack King
Gail DeMartini and Victoria Yeager Sawyer at Luncheon
Ann Dulce Reyes, Emily Dumitrescu and Sarah Barker on Fairmont Penthouse Terrace
Sarah Beth McDonald and Debbie Messemer
Wendy Simon Armstrong, Nicole Aflague, and Kelly O'Reilly
Shreve and Co.'s Richard Horn, Jenny Georges, and Bhuvan Sahney
Greg and Judy Jorgensen with Usha and John Burns
Jeannette and Mark Harris
Adrian Sawyer and Victoria Yeager Sawyer with Stephen and Anne Marie Massocca
Photographs by Drew Altizer, Heather Wiley, Aubrie Pick, Jeanne Lawrence. New York-based Jeanne Lawrence reports on lifestyle and travel from her homes in Shanghai and San Francisco, and wherever else she finds a good story.