San Francisco Social Diary
At the San Francisco Fall Antique Show.

By Jeanne Lawrence

Orchids and Antiques Decorate Fort Mason on San Francisco Bay

In San Francisco, the Fall Antiques Show and the Orchid Society’s Pacific Orchid Exposition have much in common. Both are highly anticipated social events with marvelous gala openings and they share a common venue: the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center.

So what is Fort Mason, you might ask? The one time military base was the headquarters of the San Francisco Port Embarkation, the scene of mass troop and cargo transfers to and from the Pacific Theater of Operations in WWII. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark overseen by the National Park Service.

Much like Manhattan’s Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue and 67th, the Festival Pavilion hosts community events. Highlights include conferences for Lucasfilm, Adobe and Microsoft, the annual S F Chronicle Wine Competition, the Contemporary Craft Market, the Gem Fair, the International Beer Festival, the Family Winemakers Tasting, Macy’s Passport and the list goes on.

Let’s Start With the Orchids

The Festival Pavilion blossoms each February with the arrival of the annual Pacific Orchid Exposition, one of the top three displays in the country that draws enthusiasts from around the world.

This year’s exhibition was titled “Hothouse Hotties and their Cool Friends.” The ‘Hotties’ were approximately 150,000 exotic plants from more than 50 nurseries sharing the stage with ‘cool’ Jazz musicians like the Max Perkoff Jazz Ensemble.

According to the Orchid Society, orchids, as the title infers, “thrive in diverse climates from the hot jungles of the South American Amazon River to the cool slopes of the Andes and Himalayas.”

Did you know that vanilla comes from an orchid?  I didn’t, but it’s true. The vanilla bean is the seed pod of orchidaceae vanilla planifolia, native to Mexico, tropical America, Tahiti and the most favored variety, Madagascar.

“The Orchid Doctor”, Dennis Westler (show chairman for years), made another special appearance, ‘diagnosing’ ailments and advising would-be horticulturalists on the care of these temperamental beauties.

This year’s award for “Best Plant” went to Tom Perlite of Golden Gate Orchids for the dazzling Masdevallia Copper Angel “Highland.” Tom was the big winner overall, with 11 awards including Best Specimen Plant and Best Commercial Grower.

Crowds wandered through a veritable indoor jungle of the rarified stunners and ogled Cattleya, Cymbidium, Dendrobium and Phalaenopsis (recommended for novice growers) and Lycaste, Oncidium, Odontoglossum and Vanda (for the more advanced).

The show offered activities galore from the gala benefit (offering first choice of orchid purchases) and an education day, to potting demonstrations, orchid awards, lunch, and a sales room, with incredible bargains (orchid plants starting at $20). Who can resist beauty at such a reasonable price?

Fort Mason Center's Festival Pavilion
Paradise Found
Clockwise from top left: Best Plant (with closeup), Masdevallia Copper Angel 'Highland'; The Winner, Tom Perlite, of Golden Gate Orchids; Orchids galore; The Orchid Doctor, Dennis Westler.

The Gold Country Classic Gymnastics CompetitioMeanwhile, next door at the Herbst Pavilion, the Gold Country Classic was in progress. Sponsored by San Mateo Gymnastics, the competition attracted over 780 young gymnasts (ages six to 18) performing routines for their proud parents. 

The teams represented 40 clubs from across California; Brentwood, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Berkeley, Stanford, Monterrey, Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe - all defying gravity to audience’s delight.

View from Pier of Alcatraz - The Rock
Herbst Pavilion
Future Olympians
Through the Air With the Greatest of Ease
The end of a sublime day

San Francisco Fall Antiques Show – Eat, Drink – Be Merry!

Each year, local people-watchers eagerly await the annual Fall Antiques

 Show, one of the city’s most prestigious social events. Everyone who’s anyone shows up to see, be seen and partake of the lavish cocktail buffet, aptly titled Eat, Drink – Be Merry! Some partiers even peruse the antiques!

Comparable to the New York Fall Antiques Show, the annual event drew over 2,000 collectors and art lovers to view some of the best antiques and paintings from more than 70 prominent U.S. and European dealers.

Honorary Chair, Lonna Wais

Showcased, this year were Bernard Steinitz from Paris; Mallett and The Silver Fund from London; Betty Aardewerk & Sons from Holland and Il Segno del Tempo from Italy. New York dealers included Kentshire Galleries, Berry-Hill Galleries and Dillingham & Company, while San Francisco dealers featured Therien & Co., Sandra Whitman, Foster-Gwin and the Hedge Gallery, recently opened by Roth Martin and designer Steven Volpe, specializing in 20th Century furniture and decorative pieces.

Opening night benefited Enterprise for High School Students, the non-profit job referral and career development agency that currently assists about 2,000 students, placing more than 20,000 to date.

The 2005 gala committee reads like a Who’s Who of S.F. society:  Honorary Chairman  Lonna Wais; Chairman MicheleGoss; Vice Chairmen Randolph  Arczynski and Sandy Ogden; Co-Chairmen of Connoisseurs Circle Allison Speer and Trevor Traina; Chairman, Collector’s Circle, Laura King Pfaff; Chairman, Benefactors Committee, Tamara Fritz; Chairmen, Young Collectors Committee, Mr. and Mrs. Garland Lasater III;  Chairman, Designers Circle, Suzanne Tucker, and Advisory Committee Honorary Chairman John Traina, Jr. 

Fall 2006 marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Fall Antiques Show by Toby Rose. The event promises to be spectacular with the time-honored theme of silver.

The Preview Party, chaired by Constance C. Peabody, had several receptions depending on the donation level. First the Connoisseur and Collectors Circle have their chance before the Patrons and Benefactors are admitted an hour later. All this just to snag first choice of the antiques, which are vetted by the Antique Dealers Association to insure quality.

Members of the Advisory Committee attended: Adolphus Andrews, Jr., Michael Barcun, Sotheby’s Jennifer Beiderbeck, Diana Dollars Knowles, Maryon Davies Lewis, Diane Morris, Harry S. Parker III, Helen Schwab, Debby Magowan, LA’s Terry Stanfill and NYer Wendell D. Garrett.

This year’s gala featured a bountiful buffet catered by Dan McCall, with music  by Sy Grossman. Mercedes-Benz, Goldman Sachs, and HSBC Private Bank were the big sponsors.

Sotheby’s Auction House underwrote a lecture series featuring, among others, New York authors and design insiders Chippy and Keith Irvine of Irvine & Fleming Design, who shared delightful reminiscences of their half century in the business.

Members of the Young Collectors Committee were there:  Christine Aylward, Christopher Bass, Brendan Dyson, Lycia and Rocky Fried, Patrick Herning, Katherine Jacobus, Deborah Lee Minor, Jennifer and Gilbert Orser, Kathryn Retzer and Wheeler Simmons.

And representing the Designer Circle: Shelby and Jorge De Quesada, Douglas Durkin Design, Kensington & Associates, Jean Larette Design, Kendal Wilkinson Design, The Wiseman Group and NY’s Peter Pennoyer Architects.

As you can see, everyone was there.

Julie Chase, Lonna Wais, and Toby Rose, Antique Show Founder
Juliet and André de Baubigny, Jr.
Producer Carole Shorenstein Hays and Dr. Jeff Hays

Chapin Alumni, Marion Cope

Ann Fisher

Laura King Pfaff, Pres. Bonham Butterfield

Diana Dalton and Nancy Gonzales

Roberta Sherman of Seattle

Connie and Bob Lurie with O.J. and Gary Shansby

Designer Diane Chapman Kelly

Gioia Gandolfi and Joel Goodrich

Sharon Owsley and Shannon Bavaro

LA's Tommy and Patti Skouras

Art dealers Gretchen and John Berggruen

Joy Venturini Bianchi

Carole McNeil

Donna Ewald Huggins

Alexia Swanson and Trevor Traina

Allison Speer and Matthew Weir

Stuart and Phyllis Moldaw

Sotheby's Jennifer Biederbeck and Doug Biederbeck

Saks' Therese Post

Chanel Aficionado Urannia Ristow

SF antique dealer Ed Hardy

Dede Wilsey

Jet-setters Harry and Margot de Wildt

Michael Bart and Lonna Wais

Delia Fleishhacker Ehrlich

Bob Fisher

Gary Widman and Helen Hilton Raiser

Wine Collectors Barbara Brookins-Schneider and James Schneider

Peter Fairbanks of Montgomery Gallery

Meriwether McGettigan

Owsley Brown and Jim Chapman

Robin Collins

Summer Tomkins Walker and Vanessa Getty

Carole Robinson and Donald Magnin with Bobo Fredricki and Toni Wolfson

Kay Wood, Patti Skouras, Dede Wilsey, and John Traina


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for NYSD Contents

June 23, 2006, Volume VI, Number 104
Photographs by Tom Gibbons/


© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/