San Francisco Social Diary: Art Happenings in the City

One of the stunning art-inspired floral displays of the de Young Museum’s Bouquets to Art exhibition, this aerial design by Waterlily Pond Studio’s Natasha Lisitsa, Daniel Schultz, and Carla Parkinson used 1,500 apple branches, 1,500 roses, 300 anthurium, and 120 feet of copper tubing.


In March, the San Francisco de Young Museum celebrated its 30th annual Bouquets to Art exhibition—floral interpretations of art from its collections. The Bay Area florists chosen to participate once again delivered spectacular results.

The chandelier-like “Pirouette” was inspired by “Strontium,” Gerhard Richter’s oversized mural that hangs on the wall behind it. It was created for the de Young Museum from digitally manipulated photographs.

The annual five-day exhibition showcases the work of 130 innovative floral designers and raises more money than any other Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) event. Of the 74,000-plus visitors who attended the show, more than 700 signed up for new museum memberships.

FAMSF Auxiliary President Judith Heuser and FAMSF Director Colin Bailey.

Thomas Mitchell, Opening Night Gala Honorary Chair Lonna Wais, and Jack Mettler.

Opening Night Gala Co-Chairs Nancy Noakes and Patty McCrary.

FAMSF Auxiliary President Judith Heuser and Bouquets to Art Chair Maggie Krill.


Seven students from the Environmental Horticulture/Floristry department at City College of San Francisco were invited to create “Floral Fashions”—wearable flower art. To everyone’s delight, students also modeled the green couture.

SF City College students Hee Joo, Paula Lam, Marlana Malerich, Paloma Martinez, Rachel Ermatinger, and Takhmina Akramova.

Paula Lam.

FAMSF Board Chair Dede Wilsey, Hee Joo, and Young Pak.


The organizing committee of the Opening Night Gala and Preview went all out for the 1,200 guests.

Friends and I enjoyed early (5:30 p.m.) entry for Patron-level members. The spread was something to behold—and even better to sample! I hope no one had planned to go out for dinner afterward!

“The best chocolate mousse I’ve ever tasted,” said Heidi Betz. “Like an old-fashioned chocolate pudding.” I was told to try the chocolate bacon—and was I glad when I did!

Since the event fell on St. Patrick’s Day, there were special green items on the menu.

Dim sum was artfully arranged in a flower-like presentation—with colored dumpling skins used to carry out the green theme.

I was especially impressed by the station offering risotto made to order—no easy feat!

It wouldn’t be a proper San Francisco event without McCall Catering’s famous lamb chops!


The floral arrangements were ingenious, and the entire evening was a rare pleasure. In the following week, the museum featured lectures by prestigious floral designers, lunches and teas, and floral demonstrations.

Premier Circle member Gretchen Kimball with family members Jeffrey, Julie, Steve, and Annie Kimball.

Jeanne Lawrence, FAMSF Deputy Director Richard Benefield, Bouquets to Art Committee Chair Alex Leitstein, and Sandra Swanson, last year’s Chair.

Lorre Erlick, Hilary Steinberg, and Alan Choy.

David Birka-White, Erica Fuller, Julia Birka-White, Elizabeth Birka-White, and Walter Fuller.

Pat Hanson Thompson, Klaus Murer, and Barbara Traisman.

Jason Goldman and Susie Meyer.

Heidi Betz and Maria Pitcairn.

Patty McCrary and Dale Fehringer.

Bonnie Biorn and Sarah Kozel.

This extravagant display was influenced by the oversized David Hockney piece behind it, who was featured in a de Young exhibit that ended in January.

I can hardly keep up with the de Young’s wonderful 2014 exhibition schedule: David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition (which included a painting of fellow NYSD diarist Charlie Scheips, who once worked for Hockney in LA) just closed in January, Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George runs through May, and Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert & Jane Meyerhoff Collection opens in June.

At its sister museum, the Legion of Honor, Intimate Impressionism just opened, featuring more than 70 works from the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, and Masters of Fire: The Copper Age in the Holy Land will open in June.


Caldwell Snyder Gallery, the contemporary San Francisco art gallery founded by Oliver Caldwell and Susan Snyder in 1983, observed its 30th anniversary this past year. In celebration, they presented a collection of original 30×30-inch paintings and drawings, in a special exhibition at the gallery’s Union Square location.

Caldwell Snyder Gallery focuses on innovative painting and sculpture.

30×30: A 30th Anniversary Exhibition & Celebration featured original works by some of the gallery’s artists.

The gallery represents more than 50 artists from Europe, Latin America, and the U.S., including major American post-war and emerging contemporary artists. It specializes in 21st-century American and European paintings, drawings, sculpture, and limited-edition prints.

Karen and Oliver Caldwell, Wilkes Bashford, Susan Snyder and Steve Sockolov.

The exhibition opening—on January 30 (of course!)—was an invitation-only event for gallery clients, artists, and supporters.

Works by Matt Rogers and Paul Baumer.

Boaz Vaadia’s “Menasheshe” statue, with Doug Smith’s paintings on the wall behind it.

Brad Howe’s stainless steel and polyurethane “Sombrero” sculpture.

Oliver Caldwell and Susan Snyder purchased their flagship Sutter Street gallery in the late ’90s and transformed the building from a restaurant into a light-filled, 9,000-square-foot exhibition space.

The gallery has satellites in New York and St. Helena, Napa Valley, where its Main Street turn-of-the-century Star Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Susan Snyder, Deladier Almeida, Melissa Chandon, and Oliver Caldwell.

Liz Lopez, Lisa Archambeau, Oliver Caldwell, Susan Snyder, Christina Maybaum, and Nicole Lemon.

Oliver Caldwell and Jeanne Lawrence.

Amy Rogers and artist Matt Rogers.

Karen Hirsch, Susan Snyder, Barbara Eason, and Shirley Berman.

Steve Sockolov, Michelle Chandon, Susan Snyder, Audrey Sockolov, and Bob Sockolov.

Nicholas Wilton and Laila Rezai.

Jay Jeffers and Michael Purdy.

The artwork stretched all the way onto the intimate second floor.

Fashion designer Karen Caldwell (wife of gallerist Oliver) demonstrated a variety of ways to wear a simple sash—a reminder that fashion is an art form, too!

Karen showed us how to use a sash as an obi belt, a scarf, a neck accessory, and in myriad other ways.

Works by David Buckingham and Charles Arnoldi.


In January, architect Allan Greenberg spoke at the Northern California Chapter of Classical Architects for the launch of his book, Classical Architect, featuring a forward by author and tastemaker Carolyne Roehm.

Prominent architect Allan Greenberg with his new book, Classical Architect.


The evening began with cocktails and a book signing at Collier Gwin’s antiques gallery at Hotaling Place, Foster-Gwin Art & Antiques. It’s in a historic mid-19th-century stable tucked into an alley in the Jackson Square neighborhood.

Having survived the 1906 earthquake, Jackson Square is one of the oldest neighborhoods in San Francisco. Once home to art and antiques stores, law offices, and design firms, the historic area is fast becoming the equivalent of New York’s Silicon Alley.

The charming alley in which Foster-Gwin Antiques is located.

Foster-Gwin specializes in 17th and 18th-century Continental furniture, Mediterranean antiquities, and Bay Area Abstract Expressionist art from the 1950s.


Collier Gwin and his son Spencer Gwin.

Guests who came to hear architect Allan Greenberg’s talk also enjoyed browsing the antiques at Foster-Gwin.

When I saw that one of the featured buildings in Classical Architect was Carolyne Roehm’s Connecticut country home, which I had visited, I bought the book at once and   had Greenberg autograph it. The home is an exquisite testimony to the duo’s collaborative brilliance.

Greenberg signing my copy of Classical Architect.

Jeanne Lawrence and Collier Gwin.

Foster-Gwin exhibits regularly at the Winter Antiques Show in New York and the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show.

After cocktails, the group moved on to the private club Villa Taverna, directly across the alley from the gallery, where Greenberg discussed his work and we had an opportunity to admire his masterpieces.

As I departed, I noticed the iconic Transamerica Pyramid (1972) and wondered what Greenberg thought of the design.


Photos by Jeanne Lawrence and Drew Altizer.

*Urbanite Jeanne Lawrence reports on lifestyle and travel from her homes in San Francisco, Shanghai, and New York, and wherever else she finds a good story.

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