San Francisco Social Diary: Winter Art Events

San Francisco’s winter social season was in full swing with a glamorous pair of artistic events—a passionate Ballet Opening Night Gala and the FOG Design+Art Fair.

The San Francisco Ballet’s 86th Season debuted with the 2019 Opening Night Gala and Performance with the theme “This is Passion”—and the décor, the ballet attendees, and the performances all surpassed that lofty exclamation.

The most successful opening night gala in the company’s history, a sold-out crowd of 1,000 ballet patrons for the gala dinner (plus 3,000 at the performance and 2,100 at the after-party) broke a new record of raising $3 million.

This year’s chairs outdid themselves: Gala Chair Claire Stewart Kostic, Dinner Chair Lydia Bergman, Décor Chair Donna Bachle, and Honorary Chairs Kelsey and David Lamond.

Gala Chair Claire Kostic, Dinner Chair Lydia Bergman, and DĂ©cor Chair Donna Bachle.

Honorary Chairs David and Kelsey Lamond.

Ballet Board Chair Carl Pascarella, Board Vice Chair Dede Wilsey, Bob Hill, and Yurie Pascarella.

SF Ballet Executive Director Glenn McCoy, who will soon retire after 31 years, with Deborah Bernard, GM of Operations.


One of the city’s most fashionable and extravagant nights of the year, bold colors and silhouettes were abundant. Befitting the “passionate” theme of the evening, many ladies dressed in vibrant colors such as reds and Schiaparelli pink, which complemented the evening’s dĂ©cor.

SF Ballet star principal dancer Yuan Yuan Tan, wearing her favorite designer Blanc de Chine, based in Hong Kong, with Kai Tan (no relation).

Newly engaged couple Mourad Lahlou, the Moroccan-born chef of SF restaurant Mourad, and SF Ballet principal dancer Mathilde Froustey.

Tanya Powell and Deepa Pakianathan.

Komal Shah, Jane Mudge, and Carolyn Chang.

SF Ballet Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson (since 1985) and his wife Marlene Tomasson.

SF Protocol Chief Charlotte Shultz and Former Secretary of State George Shultz.

David Shimmon, Mary Beth Shimmon, and event designer Riccardo Benavides.

Mark Calvano, Clara Shayevich, Navid Armstrong, Bahya Murad, and Joel Goodrich.

Hope Crowder, Chris Bently, Camille Bently, David Palmer, Sarah Edwards, and Trysten Edwards.

Karen Caldwell, Thurlow Washam, and Patricia Roberts.

Anne Cochran Freeman and Monica Mazzei.

Michael and Alison Mauze.

Stephan Rabimov, Farah Makras, Sonya Molodetskaya, and Marybeth Lamotte.

Claudia Ross, Keith Wetmore, Diane Adams, Andrew Hinek, and Joshua Morgan.

Alison Carlson and Jorge Maumer.

Nancy Kukacka, Ricky Serbin, and Barbara Brown.

Allison Speer, OJ Shansby, and Angelique Meckley.

Courtney Dallaire, Betsy Linder, and Jane Gazzola.

Jennifer Raiser and Michael Purdy.

Samantha Bechtel and Calgary Avansino.

Bernard and Barbro Osher.

Patricia Ferrin Loucks, Jean McIntyre, and Rada Brooks.

Bahya Murad, Mark Calvano, and Heide Betz.


Event designer J. Riccardo Benavides outdid himself yet again—something he seems to manage at every performance! This year’s décor truly reflected the theme of the evening, with dramatic light mapping projections by Immersive production and Instagram-ready, brightly-colored statues inspired by the work of London-based designer Jimmie Martin.


McCall’s Catering also topped themselves, with a sumptuous meal that featured 1.5-pound butter poached Maine lobster (flown in live for the 1,000 guests!), followed by a seductive chocolate dessert.


Before the stellar and passionate dance performance, Ballet Board Chair Carl Pascarella presented longtime ballet patron Dede Wilsey with the prestigious Lew Christensen Medal for her nearly five decades of support. (Christensen served as SF Ballet director from 1952–1984 and transformed the organization into an internationally recognized neoclassical company.)

Dede Wilsey and Carl Pascarella.

Following the ceremony, eight works were presented that exemplify the SF Ballet’s stylistic versatility and diversity, including two world premieres—by Bay Area choreographer Danielle Rowe (which earned the first standing ovation of the night) and Choreographer-in-Residence Yuri Possokhov.

Shanghai-born Yuan Yuan Tan performs Yuri Possokhov’s Diving Into The Lilacs.

Benjamin Freemantle, Jennifer Stahl, and WanTing Zhao perform Balanchine’s pas de trois from Agon.

The company performs Harald Lander’s Etudes.

Dores André, Henry Sidford, Joseph Walsh, and Miranda Silveira in Justin Peck’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.

Misa Kuranaga and Angelo Greco in Helgi Tomasson’s Soirées Musicales.


Now in its sixth year, the annual FOG Design+Art Fair has become a mainstay of San Francisco’s winter social season. The contemporary art fair kicked off with a preview gala at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture to benefit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).

This year’s fair was the biggest and the most international yet, with 53 galleries in attendance, among them representatives from Berlin, Stockholm, London, Mexico City, Paris, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Throughout the fair’s four-day run, it attracted more than 12,000 visitors.

FOG Steering Committee member Roth Martin, SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra, Steering Committee members Katie Paige, Stanlee Gatti, Susan Swig, Allison Speer, and Douglas Durkin, and Innovators Luncheon honoree Pamela Joyner.

Although it may have been difficult to focus on the art among all the mingling, by the end of the fair there was no shortage of sales.


FOG is known for being a fun, unpretentious art show. After the holidays, locals and visiting art-lovers alike were eager to get back into the social swing of things. At the sold-out preview gala, 1,500 chic fair-goers turned out in artsy outfits and enjoyed bountiful nibbles by McCall’s Catering and creative cocktails courtesy of A16.

Art collectors Bob and Randi Fisher.

Art consultant Dorka Keehn.

San Franciscan gallerist Jessica Silverman.

Matt Paige, Katie Paige, Helen Schwab, and Chuck Schwab.

Rich Greenwood, Beth Townsend, Hooman Khalili, Lisa Zabelle, Alexandra Armantrading, and Maria Quiros.

Attendees enjoyed several interactive art installations, such as this mirrored kaleidoscope-esque viewer.

Mark Buell and Susie Tompkins Buell.

Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg.

Matt Rogers, Amy Rogers, Becky Heldfond, and Will Heldfond.

Alex Chases and Maria Manetti Shrem.

Adam and Kate Clammer.

New York-based Magen H. Gallery.

Trent Norris, Paul Pelosi, and Jack Calhoun.

Art and fashion collectors Norman and Norah Stone.

David and Mary Beth Shimmon.

Cheryl Baxter, Karen Kubin, Ann Girard, and Lisa Zabelle.

London-based Sarah Myerscough Gallery.

Patrick King and Dr. Carolyn Chang.

Karen Caldwell, Thurlow Washam, and Betsy Linder.

Brooks Walker and Summer Tompkins Walker.

Lisa and Doug Goldman.

Natasha Rosekrans, John Rosekrans, Kathy Geissler Best, and Richael Best.

Maryam Muduroglu, Ken Fulk, Sheila Nahi, and Jeffry Weisman.

Nick Domitrovich, Glenn Risso, Gregg Lynn, and Jarrod Baumann.

New York-based Jason Jacques Gallery.

New York-based Hostler Burrows Gallery.


Photos by Drew Altizer, J. Riccardo Benavides, and San Francisco Ballet.

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