San Francisco Ballet Celebrates its 90th Anniversary

The 2023 San Francisco Ballet Opening Night Gala celebrated the Company’s 90th anniversary and the next@90 festival.

The Opening Night Gala of the San Francisco Ballet traditionally kicks off the winter social season. Founded in 1933, it is America’s oldest professional ballet company. In a nod to its nine-decade history, the theme of the evening was next@90…the future starts now.

The SF Ballet boasts a long and rich tradition of artistic “firsts”—among them the American debut performances of Swan Lake, Nutcracker, and Coppélia.

During the Champagne reception in the foyer, The War Memorial Opera House was packed wall to wall with balletomanes strolling among friends.

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San Francisco’s Fog Design+Art Fair Preview Gala welcomed the crowd with a colorful installation by Bay Area artist Jenny Sharaf.

In January, the fog rolled in, yet everyone was delighted, as it was the Fog Design+Art Fair Preview Gala. Now in its ninth year, the much-anticipated international fair took place at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture.

Launched in 2014, the four-day event, dedicated to exploring modern and contemporary design, architecture, and art from around the world, has become one of the city’s most vibrant events. This year’s fair attracted 12,000 visitors, indicating that its pre-pandemic momentum is rebounding.

The Fog Design+Art Fair Preview Gala is held at Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, a former military base on San Francisco Bay.

Over 2,000 viewers arrived for the opening Preview Gala, and 12,000 attended over four days.

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“Godmother of Wellness” Deborah Szekely, Visionary Founder of Rancho La Puerta, Honored on her 100th Birthday!

Rancho La Puerta, a pioneering leader of the wellness-fitness movement, is named #1 International Destination Spa by Travel + Leisure magazine.

When my dear, longtime friend Deborah Szekely, founder of the world-renowned Rancho La Puerta Wellness Resort and Spa in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico, sent an invitation to her 100th birthday celebration, I booked my flight immediately.

For the occasion of Deborah’s birthday, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria proclaimed “Deborah Szekely Day” in honor of the health and wellness visionary, philanthropist, and community leader.

Deborah Szekely celebrated her 100th birthday at Rancho La Puerta, which she and her husband co-founded in Baja California, Mexico in the 1940s.

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San Francisco Social Diary: California Pacific Medical Center Holds Creative Opening Gala

San Francisco California Pacific Medical Center Hospital celebrated the launch of its new Van Ness Campus, a $2.3 billion state-of the-art facility, with a creative opening night gala.

Following ten years of planning and several years of construction, Sutter Health opened its new $2.3 billion state-of the-art California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) hospital in the heart of San Francisco. The new Van Ness Campus is one of four CMPC campuses in the city.

In celebration, the CPMC Foundation hosted a grand gala featuring bountiful buffets, music performances throughout, and interactive exhibitions that introduced attendees to the Van Ness Campus’s advanced medical technology and personal touches.

The CPMC Van Ness building is the first in North America to incorporate fluid viscous wall dampers, energy dissipation devices that have been widely used for earthquake protection of structures in Japan.

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San Francisco Social Diary: SFMOMA Modern Ball 2018

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s second biannual “Modern Ball,” after reopening in 2016, was a hugely successful bash.


The biannual Modern Ball at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)—always high on my must-attend list—was once again a spectacular event, this year raising $4 million for education and exhibition programs, including free admission for all visitors under age 18.

The new SFMOMA Snøhetta-designed building (2016) is visible behind the original red-brick Mario Botta-designed structure (1995).

Some 2,000 reveler-supporters came to have a ball at the ball—a fabulous, international, festively attired mix of all ages and types: VIPs, museum dignitaries, directors, and curators; artists, designers, and gallerists; collectors and art lovers; techies; and the old guard and the new.

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San Francisco Social Diary: Celebrating Henry Segerstrom in Orange County, CA

The late Henry Segerstrom, public arts champion and founder of Orange County luxury shopping center South Coast Plaza, was honored during the Plaza’s 50th anniversary celebration that culminated in a Mariinsky Orchestra performance in Segerstrom Concert Hall.

On the 50th anniversary of the prestigious South Coast Plaza luxury shopping center in Costa Mesa, California, Elizabeth Segerstrom and her family honored the memory of her late husband, developer and plaza creator Henry Segerstrom.

Three days of activities and celebrations in Orange County culminated on October 30 in a concert at Segerstrom Hall by the Mariinsky Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Valery Gergiev, general and artistic director of the Mariinsky in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Valery Gergiev (left, with Russian pianist Denis Matsuev) is general director and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre, chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, and artistic director of the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg.

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Exploring Palm Springs, Part II

Palm Springs, long a glamorous retreat for Hollywood stars, is now a flourishing arts community that has recently drawn a new surge of tourists.

I want to abandon New York this winter and join the international snow birds in flying to Palm Springs, in Southern California’s Coachella Valley (which locals call just “The Valley”), to enjoy the ultimate in resort pleasures: natural beauty, year-round sun, golf courses, tennis facilities, spas, hiking, gambling, and vibrant nightlife.

The nine desert towns that compose The Valley include Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, and Coachella.

It’s just a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and San Diego to Palm Springs, situated amid the dramatic peaks of the Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, and Little San Bernardino Mountains.

The temptations of the city’s Uptown Design District include shopping, dining, and cultural events.

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San Francisco Social Diary: Art Celebrations in the City by the Bay

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art celebrated with a Birthday Bash that featured Grammy-winning singer Solange Knowles.


Over 2,000 revelers showed up at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) to celebrate the first-year anniversary of its expansion with a lavish Birthday Bash night, which brought the art and tech worlds together.

The bang-up Birthday Bash included an installation by artist Judy Chicago, an actual tattoo parlor, and live performances by Helado Negro and Les Twins. The night ended with a Late-Night Bash with opening act Lil Buck followed by a headline performance by Grammy Award-winning artist Solange Knowles.

Asked to dress in monochromatic outfits, guests complied, adding to the spirit of this colorful, fun, and spectacular 7-hour celebration.

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Charleston Social Diary

The 1853 Isaac Jenkins Mikell House is an example of the historical antebellum-era Greek Revival architecture common in Charleston, South Carolina.


Charleston, South Carolina: The five days I recently spent here—my first visit to the “Palmetto City”—weren’t enough. There was so much more I wanted to see and do that I’m determined to return soon. Meanwhile, I’m sharing some highlights.

Jeanne Lawrence in front of some of Charleston’s architectural marvels, which run the gamut from Federalist to modern.

Visitors enjoy traversing Charleston’s orderly grid of streets on foot, by pedicab, bicycle, in a horse-drawn carriage, and even by Uber.

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San Francisco Social Diary: 2017 San Francisco Ballet Gala

Thousands of guests attended the SF Ballet Opening Night Gala that included a magical performance by the dancers and musicians.


The San Francisco Ballet launched its 2017 season with the sold-out “Ever Magical”-themed Opening Night Gala. It raised a record-setting $2.9 million and drew a record setting-attendance of more than 1,300 guests for the Gala and more than 2,400 at the after-party.

What impressed me most this year was the number of attractive and beautifully dressed younger fans in the crowd. Charitable organizations are puzzling over how to entice the young people to be involved with the arts, and the SF Ballet seems to have found the way.

SF Ballet Auxiliary: Margaret Mitchell, Lori Harmon, Michelle Harris, Maria Hemphill, Brenda Leff, Rene Rodman, Claire Kostic, Blanca Aguirre, Ave Seltsam, Catherine Bergstrom, Monika Moscoso, Meg Ray, Debra Leylegian, Patricia Ferrin Loucks, Trecia Knapp, Rhonda Maehndroo, Jennie Golde.

DĂ©cor Chair Claire Kostic, Event Chair Ave Seltsam, and Dinner Chair Meg Ray.

Yurie Pascarella, in Marchesa, with Board of Trustees Chair Carl F. Pascarella.

The black-tie gala drew over 1,300 balletomanes from the Bay Area.

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