Thursday, April 8, 2010

San Francisco Social Diary

Honorary and Gala Chairs Yuan Yuan Tan, Joan Chen, Gorretti Lui, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Hong Kong’s Loletta Lo, and Amy Tan.
The chairs wear the traditional Qipao, all from the Blanc de Chine collection, which has the most luxurious silks.
by Jeanne Lawrence

San Francisco — In the Year of the Tiger, after years of planning and pre-opening hullabaloo, the citywide, yearlong Shanghai Celebration began.

This is definitely the year for Shanghai and San Francisco. Over 30 years ago, the cities established a “sister city” relationship to encourage cultural and business opportunities. It was a prescient move by San Francisco, considering Shanghai’s global importance today.

The premiere event was a gala at the Asian Art Museum (AAM) that preceded the opening of its landmark show, a visual record of 150 years of Shanghai history.
At San Francisco Asian Art Museum, Mayor Gavin Newsom welcomes the visiting Shanghai delegation.
The AAM coordinated the entire Shanghai Celebration, which involves 30 Bay Area organizations presenting more than 50 programs. All events coincide with the Shanghai World’s Fair, EXPO 2010, which takes place from May 1 to October 31.

An international, sophisticated city, Shanghai has spent billions getting gussied up to reclaim its former reputation as the Pearl of the Orient.

“EXPO will be Shanghai’s coming-out party,” said AAM Director Jay Xu, a Shanghai native whose resume includes a stint at the Shanghai Museum.
Gala Chairman, Gorretti Lui. Serge and Tatiana Sorokko, co-chair and a gala chair next year.
San Francisco is the only U.S. city that will sponsor its own week at EXPO 2010.

The Shanghai Celebration hoopla gave momentum to the Gala, which raised a record amount and drew a record 560 guests — so many that a tent had to be set up for the occasion.

The charming and capable Gala Chair Gorretti Lo Lui deserves kudos for the event’s success. So do her Honorary Chairs: Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of San Francisco’s mayor; Hong Kong philanthropist and former Miss Hong Kong Loletta Lo; Actress Joan Chen; Author Amy Tan; and SF Ballet Principal Dancer Yuan Yuan Tan. Co-chairs were Matt Brooks and Tatiana Sorokko.
Gala Committee Rosina Sun with husband
Tony Sun.
Gala committee member Pamela Joyner somehow co-ordinates her gown with work by artist Zhang Jian-Jun.
Asian Art Museum Director Jay Xu, Jennifer Siebel Newsom with her husband Mayor Gavin Newsom, and Paul Pelosi.
Former Secretary of State George Shultz with wife Charlotte Shultz, SF Chief of Protocol. Loletta Lo and Skip Whitney.
Mayor Gavin Newsom, now running for Lt. Governor of California, even tossed in a few words in Mandarin when he welcomed dignitaries to the Gala. They included His Excellency Liu Yungeng, Chairman of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress and Hong Kong/Shanghai Real Estate Tycoon Vincent Lo.

Beverly Jackson, author of Shanghai Girl Gets All Dressed Up and a collector of Chinese textiles, flew in from Santa Barbara for the event. When she spotted Commissioner Martha Hertelendy in a burgundy-and-gold Chinese dragon robe, she gave her dinner partner a nudge: “Look at that rare kesi weave,” she said.

Most of the committee wore qipaos (the narrow silks sheaths known in Cantonese as cheongsams) from the by Blanc de Chine collection. The boutique, which has branches in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York, is known for its high-end, luxurious fabrics and Zen-like design.
Prima Ballerina Yuan Yuan Tan (a Shanghai native) and SF Ballet Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson. Commissioner Martha Hertelendy, wearing an antique Chinese robe, and George Norton.
Author and Chinese textile collector Beverley Jackson arrived from Santa Barbara. Jerry Yang, Gorretti Lui, and Dominic Ng of East West Bank.
New Yorker Patty Tang, president of the “American Friends of the Shanghai Museum,” had the highest praise for multi-talented Museum Director Jay. “Art expert, experienced academic, a great money raiser. A perfect package!”

Banks of flickering red candles and dozens of red lanterns set out for the occasion contrasted with the dramatic black walls, and cast a flattering glow. “We wanted to create the feeling of a Shanghai Lounge in the 1930’s and were also inspired by the Liuli Art gallery in San Francisco. I love their red!” exclaimed Gorretti.

With a new director, an energetic board, a location amid one of the largest Chinese populations in the U.S. and a “sister city” relationship with dynamic Shanghai, the Museum’s time has come. I predict it will be a major cultural force.
Justine Arrillaga, Jerry Yang (Yahoo! founder) with wife Akiko Yamazaki, a board member. Shanghai-Hong Kong Vincent and Loletta Lo (Honorary Chair) flew in from China.
Gala Chairman Gorretti Lui with sponsor Dale Brown of Boucheron.
Trustee Chair Dixon and Carol Doll and World EXPO Sponsors. Jamie and Steve Chen, a YouTube founder.
The visiting Chinese delegation not only attended the Gala and visited the Museum, but also took a tour of the city thanks to Board Member David Lei. He took them to Muir Woods, the Pacific Ocean, and Ghirardelli Square.

But the centerpiece of the tour was a visit to Costco, the warehouse store. They can get Pucci and Gucci back home, but there’s no Costco, so they took advantage of the occasion to stock up on household goods. On everyone’s shopping list: vitamins, olive oil, and California honey.

To learn more about "Shanghai Celebration," Click links below:
Mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao in the wedding dress (by Designer Han Feng) she wore in the Bonesetter's Daughter.
Shanghai Lounge 1930's was the theme and with a sold-out event a tent was set up.

On another day, the San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum held an intimate luncheon for the Chinese artists who participated in the exhibition that’s part of its Shanghai Celebration.

Li Huayi, Zheng Chongbin and Zhang Jian-Jun were the guests of honor in the elegant Peterson Dining Room overlooking the Peterson Chinese Garden, to which only major donors have entrée.

At lunch, Gorretti Lui broke the big news: Pamela Joyner and Tatiana Sorokko would co-chair the Gala preceding the October 2011 show, “Maharaja: Splendors of India’s Royal Court.”
San Francisco Asian Art Museum hosts a private luncheon for the Chinese artists.
These talented and experienced gala planners and fashionistas have a year and a half to cook up something spectacular for that Indian theme. (Is there an elephant in the Museum’s future?)

The rest of us there’s plenty of time to decide what to wear.

At a recent benefit, Pam wore an eye-popping necklace of gigantic emeralds that once belonged to an Indian maharani and then to the grandfather of the present Aga Kahn. I can’t wait to see if she can top that.
The lunch was in the Peterson private dining room overlooking the Chinese Garden.
Director Jay Xu, a Shanghai native, once curated at the Shanghai Museum of Art.
The artists.
Jeanne Lawrence, Pamela Joyner. Gorretti Liu, Tatiana Sorokko, Pam Kramlich, and Jay Xu.
L-R. Li Huayi, Jay Xu, Zheng Chongbin, and Zhang Jian-Jun in the Peterson Garden.
After lunch I stopped by the well-stocked the Book and Gift Shop.
I watched the couple stack antique bricks from demolished Shanghai houses for the installation.

Many of the glamorous younger set sported animal prints at Zootopia, the first annual Gala for the San Francisco Zoo.

The sold-out event was held at Spruce, the sophisticated and clubby Pacific Heights restaurant whose owner Tim Stannard donated the whole shebang — bar service, staff, six-course dinner with hors d’oeuvres, even the valet parking.

The first Zootopia fundraiser was at Spruce restaurant in Pacific Heights.
Spruce is such a success that Stannard plans to expand his empire with sure-to-be-hot-spots on Union Street and Sun Valley, Idaho.

Chair Alison Carlson and Event Designer Riccardo Benavides carried out the Zootopia theme with animal motifs that complemented Martine’s exotic floral arrangements. And specialty Martinis helped keep the mood wild.

Dinner Chair Daru Kawalkowski and her committee, working with Spruce GM Jim Minch and chef Mark Sullivan, came up with the hearty menu that included a man-pleasing lobster course and a filet entrée. (Why not cater to the gents? The ladies don’t eat anyway!)

Post-dinner, guests lingered over Port and Stilton cheese at the bar, where Philip Claypool and Freddy Clarke contributed the background music.

To me, this was a perfect charity event: superb food and wine, an elegant and intimate setting, and comfortable seating at small tables, where you could chat with friends and tablehop between courses.

No wonder the second annual Zootopia is almost sold out ... even though the date has yet to be set.
Chair Alison Carlson and Mindy Henderson. Elizabeth Thieriot and Robert Eves.
Dianne Taube, Rosemary Baker, Mindy Henderson, and Michelle Cheatham.
Barbara Brown and Michelle Molfino. Clarissa Nicosia and Cathy Goodman.
Kari Wolski and Phillip Claypool. Susan Dossetter and Jean Larette.
Musicians Freddy Clarke (pictured) and Philip Claypool performed, gratis.
Angelique Griepp, Susan Dunlevy, and Daru Kawalkowski, comparing heights. Kelly Strain and Scott Harkonen.

Ladies — many in red gowns — set San Francisco City Hall aglow at the annual American Red Cross Gala benefiting disaster readiness and relief efforts in the Bay Area.

A tip of the hat to the Gala Chairs — this year, Roberta Economidis and Kelly Bryson Murphy — who consistently create such a glamorous event in support of the admirable cause.
American Red Cross 'Paint the Town Red' Gala.
The highlight of this year’s Gala, “Paint the Town Red,” was a silent auction of Celebrity Survival Kits. High-profile types such as Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and Senator Dianne Feinstein put together what they considered “the absolute necessities” in the event of disaster.

In the Grand Rotunda, a fortunate 450 VIP’s feasted on drinks and hors d’oeuvres supplied by Grey Goose and the Gallo Family Vineyards, then enjoyed a dinner catered by Paula LeDuc in the North Light Court. Event Planner Dominic Phillips coordinated all the details.

In the spirit of true San Francisco globalism — and as a tribute to the global presence of the Red Cross — the eclectic guest list included individuals from more than 16 countries.
Co-Chairs Kelly Bryson Murphy and Roberta Economidis. Ye-Hui Lu, Terry Molakides, and Sandra Chiodo.
The Cheerleaders.
Ted Murphy, Ali Cox, and friend. Dave Schlecht and Susan Atherton.
Sarah Lewis, Karen Hout, Dave Weigand, Hannah Dova, and Kelly Grimes. Natasha Chalmers.
Christopher Contos, Katherine Pellegrini Inglin, and Rhagu Shivaram.
Craig Frances, Christine Williams, and Hooman Khalili. Sally and Sarah Fowler.

Where would fashion be without mirrors? Choosing “Through the Looking Glass” as the theme of 84th Annual Fashion show of the Junior League of San Francisco (JLSF) was a brilliant inspiration!

Even the patron categories — Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, and March Hare — carried out the fantasy theme.
Courtney Bocci at the Junior League Benefit.
Jennifer Marples, Alex Skillman, Wendy Simon Armstrong, Michelle Curtis, Karen Stinton, Layne Gray, and Sarah Lewis.
This was the JLSF’s 51st annual collaboration with the Fairmont and the 22nd year of collaborating with Macy’s. In the family-friendly event, JLSF members and their adorable children strut the catwalk instead of professional models.

Trina Turk designs were front and center, and Walcoal presented the intimate apparel segment. I applaud the gals with enough guts and muscle to hit the runway in those scanty duds. (Note to self: Book additional time with personal trainer.)
Nick and Courtney Bocci. Gwinne Berexa and Maggie Stack King.
Chris and Loree Dowse, Imani Graham and Charleston Pierce.
Kelly O'Reilly and Emily Dumitrescu. Loree Dowse and Jennifer Marples.
Backstage frenzy before the fashion show begins.
Larry Harshbarger and Gail de Martini. Trina Turk and Larry Harshbarger.

The 14th annual San Francisco Arts of Pacific Asia Show had an opening night celebration — complete with Chinese stilt-walkers and lion dancers — that benefited the Asian Art Museum.

Held at the historic Fort Mason Center (San Francisco’s answer to New York’s Seventh Regiment Armory), the show is a highlight of the San Francisco calendar. The atmosphere was even more charged this year since the city is focused on its Shanghai Celebration that has energized the Asian scene.

This year, it included a display of 10,000 antiques, art, and textiles culled from 2,000 years of Asian arts, culture and history — even an enormous brick installation and a special exhibit of Vichai Shinalai’s brush paintings.
Joan Vinson and SF Asia Art Museum Director Jay Xu. Wendy Soone Broder and Sally Leung.
Donna Huggins. Fred Levin and Nancy Livingston.
More than 70 art dealers showcase Asian Art.
Helen and Stanly Chang. We wondered where she found her jewelry.

San Francisco's World Affairs Council sponsored a talk by Zhou Wenzhong, Ambassador from the People’s Republic of China, on “U.S.-China Relations Present and Future” and the significance of bilateral relations.

China wants the U.S. to let go of the Cold War mentality, the Ambassador explained. It’s time to build a cooperative relationship for the 21st century.

Peter Robertson, the Council's board president, led the Q&A. The Ambassador was stumped only once—by the questioner who asked, “How would China have dealt with a Bernie Madoff?
World Affairs Council meets at the historic Nob Hill Fairmont Hotel.
The Gold Room is packed with those waiting to hear Zhou Wenzhong, Ambassador of PRC talk.
Peter Robertson, the WAC board president opens the discussion. H.E. Zhou Wenzhong. This was one of his last talks as he is retiring and returning to China.
The topic: U.S. China Relations Present and Future and bilateral relations.
The Q & A continued after his talk and a private dinner followed.
Photographs by Drew Altizer & 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.