Norah and Norman Stone’s art-filled Napa Valley country estate, “Stonescape,” features artist James Turrell’s Stone Sky, which comprises an infinity pool, pavilion, and one of his signature “Skyspaces.”
AN ART BASH AT STONESCAPE IN NAPA VALLEY
One of the most creative and buzz-worthy events of the Bay Area summer “high season” is the biennial fete hosted by art collectors and philanthropists Norah and Norman Stone.
The party takes place at Stonescape, their country estate and retreat at the far northern end of the Napa Valley, near the Calistoga hot springs resort founded in the 1860s.
Norah and Norman Stone host a biennial summer art bash—which this year coincided with their 30th anniversary celebration—at their Calistoga country estate.
Every few years, the Stones curate a new show from their internationally acclaimed collection of modern and contemporary works and exhibit it in a unique gallery—an “art cave” excavated into the hillside of their Calistoga estate.
The private show, entitled “Convergence,” was exhibited in the Stonescape art cave, labelled a “must-see art museum opened by collectors” by gallerist Jeffrey Deitch.
THE STONESCAPE COUNTRY ESTATE
Adventurous in their taste in all things, the Stones have created an idyllic life for themselves. Connoisseurs of art, fashion, food, wine, and travel, they are always open to expanding their horizons.
With a Beaux Arts-style 1927 home in San Francisco, and a retreat in Lanai, Hawaii, the couple purchased an 1887 white farmhouse in the Napa Valley wine country as their weekend retreat, and named the 17-acre property “Stonescape.”
Guests arrived at Stonescape, a country estate that includes a vineyard and a majestic grove of redwood trees—and now also some remarkable outdoor art installations.
The 1887 farmhouse, which is filled with art from the Stones’ collection and Scandinavian furniture and design pieces.
STONESCAPE FIFTH BIENNIAL
The fifth biennial exhibition and party drew more than 225 guests who came to enjoy the remarkable “Convergence” exhibition, meander through the spectacular grounds, swim in a pool that itself is a major work of art, and gather in the vineyard of the property to break bread and share lively conversation.
The experience was dazzling and so was the crowd itself. The Stones gather an unusually diverse group of friends and colleagues, artists and tradespeople, Napa locals, San Francisco politicos, and other movers and shakers from around the world.
The Pelosi family: Son-in-law Michiel Vos, Paul Pelosi, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, daughter Alexandra Pelosi, and granddaughter Madeline Prowda.
Burning Man Project Treasurer Jennifer Raiser, with her mother Helen Hilton Raiser.
Former San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan, with his wife Wendy Paskin.
Norah Stone, Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain, and Norman Stone.
Interior designer Diane Chapman, with Jon and Linda Gruber.
Jonathan Gans, Helena Gans, and Abigail Turin.
Gallerist Gretchen Berggruen, Paul Pelosi, and Courtney Treut.
Carla Emil, Bob Fisher, and Jennifer Biederbeck of Sotheby’s.
Artist Amalia Ulman, Norah Stone, and “Convergence” curator Suzanne Modica.
New York gallerists Andrew Krepps, Sylvia Chivaratanond, New York gallerist Chiara Repetto, and Kate Butler.
Yvette Lee of New York and her daughter Bronwyn Lee.
Norma and Norman Stone with artist Amalia Ulman.
Sylvia Chivaratanond, LA MOCA Director Philippe Vergne, Brian Butler, and Kate Butler.
Art consultant Sabrina Buell with her husband Yves Behar, founder of Fuseproject design firm.
Norah Stone (center) with San Francisco friends Barry Munitz, OJ Shansby, Ann Munitz, and Gary Shansby.
Norman Stone, German gallerist Gisela Capitain, and art collectors Pamela and Dick Kramlich.
Jonathan Perkins, Sonja Perkins, Emma Samuelsen, and Anne Heese.
Mary Ourisman, Maria Manetti Shrem, Deborah Harlan, Bill Harlan, Jeanne Lawrence, and Jan Shrem.
Artist Pat Lenz and her husband Peter Lenz.
Berkeley Art Museum Curator Apsara DiQuinzio with San Francisco artist Chris Bell.
Amy Stone and her father Norman Stone.
Vintners Bill and Deborah Harlan and Stonescape art cave architect Martin Cox.
Author Sarah Thornton and San Francisco gallerist Jessica Silverman.
David Spalding, San Francisco gallerist Cheryl Haines, and SFMOMA Curator Janet Bishop.
San Francisco gallerist John Berggruen, art collector Frances Bowes, and New York art adviser Anthony Grant.
Vintner Molly Chappellet, Dick Kramlich, and Eleanor Coppola, film maker and wife of Francis Ford Coppola.
Nate Aldred, Charley Cohen, Miami fashion designer Andrea Spiridonakos, and her husband Jersey Poznar.
Art collectors April and Glenn Bucksbaum, son of the late art collector and curator Melva Bucksbaum.
SFMOMA Curator Rudolf Freiling and Max Hollein, the newly appointed director of the Fine Arts Museums San Francisco.
Norman’s daughter Amy Stone and Hector Rubio of Hawaii.
Artist Alex Israel and SFMOMA Curator Gary Garrels.
Cari Borja, artisan Evan Shively, and Madeleine Fitzpatrick.
Jeanne Lawrence and Mary Ourisman of Palm Beach and Washington, DC.
Dorka Keehn and Marc Ebbin.
Anne and Roger Walther.
New York art advisers Ashley Carr, Andrew Greene, and “Convergence” curator Suzanne Modica.
Chris Meany, Jennifer Biederbeck, Michelle Meany, and Norman Stone.
THE ONE-OF-A-KIND ART CAVE
While their friends in the California wine country dreamed of building wine caves, the Stones opted instead for an art cave built into a hill. The Stones excavated the cave on the property to house pieces too large or difficult to install in either their Stonescape residence or their San Francisco home.
The works in the cave’s current show, “Convergence,” curated by art adviser Suzanne Modica, explore how contemporary artists respond to a world obsessed with “spectacle, the cult of celebrity, and the pervasiveness of social media.” Several of the artists featured in the show were in attendance.
Artist Antek Walczak with Norah and Norman Stone.
Artist Bill Hayden with Norah and Norman Stone.
Artist Alex Israel.
Artist Ira Yeager and Mary Ourisman.
Martin Cox, of Bade Stageberg Cox, who designed the cave, with Norah Stone and Siebe Tettero.
The art cave’s vaulted art galleries create a spacious feeling for display of the couple’s evolving cutting-edge collection.
Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Untitled 2011 (Police the Police), is a site-specific, monumental black-and-white mural of political activists and social justice causes.
Jeanne Lawrence surrounded by Rirkrit Tiravanija’s mural and a pile of tee shirts emblazoned with the words “Police the Police,” for guests to take as a gift.
Guests enjoyed a ride on what is actually an art work, The Hungry Messenger, 2015, by Josephine Pryde, a 1:10 scale model of a Union Pacific locomotive.
Gemologist Meriwether McGettigan and gallerist John Berggruen enjoying artist Josephine Pryde’s train ride.
A MUTUAL PASSION FOR ART
Norman, a Chicago native, earned a BA in economics from Stanford University. After a stint in the corporate world, he earned a doctorate from the Wright Institute in Berkeley and practiced as a psychotherapist in Hunters Point, a low-income neighborhood in San Francisco.
Canadian-born Norah, on the other hand, chose the opposite trajectory, first working as a registered nurse in psychiatric and surgical units, and later earning a law degree, in order to practice as a corporate attorney.
Norman and Norah Stone at the 2015 FOG Design+Art Fair, a benefit for SFMOMA, where the couple are trustees.
The Stones at the 2016 FOG Design+Art Fair, as usual having fun with their finery.
Each also studied art, and it’s this shared passion that takes them around the world learning and searching for their next work of art. Today, the couple serve on many art boards: Both are trustees of SFMOMA, and are members of the New York Whitney Museum National Committee and the Tate International Council in London.
ART & FASHION LOVERS
Another mutual interest is they both love to dress up—for themselves. The Stones are well known for their individualistic and amusing fashion sense (she was honored by San Francisco Magazine in 2007 as one of the city’s best-dressed). They are collectors of whimsical and colorful outfits by high-end designers that would certainly be wonderful additions to a museum fashion collection.
Adventurous and playful in their taste for fashion as well as art, Norah wore Andrea Spiradonakas (Miami) with a fun hairpiece, while Norman wore Dolce & Gabbana.
The Stones at the 2014 launch party for The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.
Norman and Norah also go black tie in their own fabulous style, here at the San Francisco Ballet’s 2016 Opening Night Gala.
BUILDING THE COLLECTION
The Stones have been frequently profiled in art magazines and are listed among ARTnews magazine’s Top 200 Collectors. They are admired for their thoughtful and socially, politically, and culturally challenging acquisitions.
The couple are generous in giving credit to those who helped start them on their art-collecting path. They thank the late John Caldwell, former SFMOMA curator of painting and sculpture, for introducing them to New York-based art consultant Thea Westreich Wagner.
Thea Westreich Wagner (at right) curated the first Stonescape exhibition in 2007, titled “Works to Inaugurate a Space.”
A MIX OF CONTEMPORARY AND MODERN
The Stones’ collection of over 1,000 pieces of art and major outdoor installations reflect their interests in conceptualism, current cultural issues, and various forms of expression including sculpture, painting, media, and photography.
“Our aim has always been to collect museum-quality works,” Norman has said, and to make a “cohesive collection” that the Stones aim to someday donate to art institutions.
Over the years, the Stones have amassed the work of numerous influential 20th and 21st century artists, such as Matthew Barney, Monica Bonvicini, Jan De Cock, Bruce Conner, Tony Conrad, Marcel Duchamp, Dan Flavin, Robert Gober, and Donald Judd.
Other artists in the Stones’ collection include Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Sheri Levine, Sol LeWitt, Sigmar Polke, Richard Prince, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Robert Smithson, Keith Tyson, Christopher Wool, and Andy Warhol.
COCKTAIL HOUR BY ARTIST JAMES TURRELL’S “SKYSPACE”
After viewing the latest exhibition, guests headed to nibbles and “Turrell” Tequila cocktails, named in honor of the artist James Turrell, whose on-site installation Stone Sky, 2005, includes an infinity pool, pavilion, and “Skyspaces.”
James Turrell’s Stone Sky, 2005 reflects the Valley’s light as the sun moves throughout the day.
DINNER IS SERVED AT GOURMET FOOD TRUCKS
Always delighting guests with the unexpected, the Stones this year brought in some of the Bay Area’s iconic gourmet food trucks to cater. Guests lined up for choices including Italian, Mexican, and American comfort food, served with Azalea Springs wine. Of course, many of us returned enough times to sample everything!
Norman and Norah Stone and their guests enjoyed the chow from one of the gourmet food trucks, driven in for the occasion.
Cliff Family Bruschetteria served a Northern Italian-inspired menu of bruschetta, spiedini, salads, and rotisserie chicken.
Tacos Michoacan offered burritos and tacos.
Guests sipped Azalea Springs wine, made of grapes grown in the surrounding vineyards of the Diamond Mountain Appellation District.
DINING AL FRESCO UNDER THE STARS
Dinner was served on the lawn, at one long table of salvaged wood designed by master woodworker, craftsman, arborist, and artist Evan Shively of Arborica, set up next to Turrell’s Skyscape and the sunflower field.
A long table was set up on a grassy lawn, amid the Azalea Spring Vineyards, near the 1880s farmhouse.
Other guests found quiet alcoves in which to dine, such the towering grove of redwood trees.
AFTER-DINNER SWIM AT JAMES TURRELL’S SKYSPACE
A highlight of the Stones’ summer parties is enjoying the swimming pool and pavilion. When Norman went to turn off the lights after midnight, he discovered a few guests still soaking in the infinity pool under the starlit skies. This was a party no one wanted to leave!
Everyone had ogled and chatted, sipped and savored, swum and strolled. It was an evening that satisfied every sense.
Not people to sit around, the Stones lost no time, soon flying off to Ashland, Oregon for their annual Camp Norah trek to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, for several days of plays, food, and fun with friends.
Photos by Drew Altizer and Jeanne Lawrence.
*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.