Flashback: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's 20th annual Director's Circle Dinner
Smart evening at SFMOMA.

By Jeanne Lawrence

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Director’s Circle with an invitation-only dinner and lecture by multi-media artist Matthew Barney for the museum’s big donors.

The evening was a partnership between co-chairs Norah Sharpe Stone (a Board member who with husband Norman Stone was one of Barney’s earliest collectors) and Gretchen Leach (whose husband the Hon. Howard Leach was past Ambassador to France). Lending support were Board Chair Steven Oliver and Developmental Chair and Former Board of Trustees Chair, Elaine McKeon who established the Director’s Circle under her tenure.

SFMOMA Annual Director's Club Dinner

Barney, born in the Bay area and a graduate of Yale, took the art world by storm with his first museum exhibition at SFMOMA in 1991, with a subsequent show in 1996, and later at New York’s Guggenheim. SFMOMA now boasts six of his works among its permanent collection.  

The only US showing of his new performance-based project, “Drawing Restraint 9,” opened at SFMOMA this summer with a screening of Barney’s feature length film starring himself – who else? - and collaborator Björk, the bizarre punk rock divafrom Iceland.

After the lecture in the museum’s Phyllis Wattis Theater, the art supporters enjoyed a reception and dinner. Decoration for the evening reflected Italian museum architect Mario Botta’s design with its trademark black and white pillars - ever so smart, contemporary yet classic.

Under the creative eye of event designer Robert Fountain, the museum’s lobby was transformed into a very, very glam lounge/living room. Clean and modern, the furnishings featured lots of white leather, bar stools and sofas with coffee tables. “I wanted it to feel like you’ve walked into a big living room with oversized lamps, and intimate seating pockets,” explained Fountain. 

The black and white theme continued in the atrium where a feast, catered by Dan McCall awaited the guests –vegetable timbales, lamb 2 ways and fruit tarts. A cornucopia of white phalenopsis orchids and calla lilies bloomed everywhere among the oversized square china, white dining chairs, black clad waiters and white clad valets. Perhaps the requisite black tie was a nod to evening’s theme, aptly fitting the decor.

The glitterati included SF Mayor Gavin Newsom, SF MOMA Director Neal Benezra, former director Jack Lane (now at the Dallas Museum of Art) and his wife Gelise, Sotheby’s Vice Chair Jamie Niven and Sotheby Realty’s Patrick Barber who were honorary dinner co-chairmen, Charles and Helen Schwab, Helen Hilton Raiser and Jennifer Raiser, Paul Pelosi, Cathy Post, Amanda Gamble, Concepcion and Irwin Federman, Daniel Lurie with his fiancée Becca Prowda, Doug and Jennifer Biederbeck, Gary Widman, Sally Klingbeil, John and Lisa Miller, Leigh Matthes, and Lenore and Richard Niles.

Others spotted among the throngs: video collectors Pam and Dick Kramlich, District Attorney Kamala Harris, Ned and Cathy Topham, Bobbie and Mike Wilsey, Robert  Mailer Anderson and Nicola Miner, Don and Doris Fisher, Stuart and Phyllis Moldaw, art dealers John and Gretchen Berggruen, Karen and Frank Caufield, Mimi Haas, Frank and Kay Woods, and gift bags donors Wendy and Vasilios Kiniris.

Also attending were: Candy and Bill Hamm (parents of NYer Alexia Hamm Ryan), Marissa Mayer, Meg Shiffler, Vicki and Kent Logan, Barbara and Gerson Bakar, Kary Schulman, Dominic Willsdon, Susan and Richard Watkins, Raoul Kennedy, Martha Nolte, Roz and Merv Morris, Rich Silverstein, Anne Thornton, Maria Makela, Carla Emil, Jeanne Robertson, Byron Meyer, andNew York art dealer Barbara Gladstone.

All in all, the evening was a perfect blend of intellectual stimulus and camaraderie, both intimate and refined, restrained but ‘edgy.’

Gretchen Leach, Matthew Barney, and Norah Stone

Matthew Barney and Mayor Gavin Newsom

Norman Stone and Elaine McKeon - former chair

L. to r.: Ultra Sophisticated; White on White night.

Cathy Post, Elaine McKeon, and Amanda Gamble

SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra and Maria Makela

Paul Pelosi and Dick Kramlich

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Norah Stone

Jennifer Raiser and Sally Klingbeil

Daniel Lurie and Fiancée Becca Prowda

Amanda Gamble and Cathy Post

Helen Hilton Raiser, Gary Widman, and Jennifer Raiser

Doug and Jennifer Biederbeck

John and Lisa Miller

Lenore and Richard Niles

Marissa Mayer wearing Carolina Herrera

Collectors Norah and Norman Stone

Concepcion and Irwin Federman

Björk and Barney

Meg Shiffler, Kary Schulman, and Dominic Willsdon

Pam Kramlich, Raoul Kennedy, and Martha Nolte

Rich Silverstein and Carla Emil

Leigh Matthes and Lisa Miller

Robert Mailer Anderson, Nicola Miner, District Attorney Kamala Harris, and Daniel Lurie

Sally Klingbeil and Anne Thornton


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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com