Mod Squad


A new kid's in town this weekend (Fort Mason's Herbst Pavilion) at the debut of SF20, a show and sale featuring exquisite decorative arts and furniture showcasing 20th Century design.

Like the set of "Mad Men" come to life, a swinging preview party kicked things off Wednesday. And glamorous guys and dolls, decked in their hipster finest, ravenously raced from booth to booth snapping up the jazzy one-of-a-kind kit.

A portion of sales from the party benefited the programs of the San Francisco Musuem of Modern Art and SFMOMA Board Chairman Charles Schwab and his wife, Helen Schwab, served as the event's Honorary Co-chairmen.

"My daughter fell in love with mid-century design years ago," said Helen Schwab of her daughter, Katie Schwab. "We collect contemporary work as well as attend modernism shows in Boston and New York. So it's great to have a show of such quality in San Francisco that also introduces young collectors to SFMOMA!"

Though within the knock-out apartment interior homage to Liza Minnelli, the theme of "modern" got a little too carried away for some SFMOMA-ers.

"We had to ask them to remove the bottle of pills and lines of mock cocaine from the mirrored coffee table," admitted one staffer. "But we can handle the ashtray full of cigarette butts."

Organized by Dolphin Production's Rosemary Krieger, mad modernist Stanlee Gatti was so excited by the idea and design of SF20 he led the charge to people the honorary committee with major arts aficionados, even offering his sleekly modern hilltop home hide-away for patrons who ponied up $5K or more. That list (Ann Getty, Bradley and Chris James, the Schwabs, Marissa Mayer, Carmel and Eric Greenberg, Dede Wilsey, Courtney Roberts) is still growing.

Still, the snazzy arrival of SF20 managed to ruffle some fine feathers among the swell set who worried that this new show's timing might draw away from the grand-daddy of local decorative art shows -- the long beloved SF Fall Antiques Show (gala preview is Oct. 22).

But, thankfully, all is well (and politically and environmentally correct) in the kingdom of couture kit.

While there will, of course, be some crossover among the two crowds ... both shows are different beasts for those whom like to shop and decorate their homes with -- let's face it -- used stuff. Albeit tres cher used stuff.

Even if it's "previously owned" provenance is from the boudoir of King Louis XIV, it's still second-hand goods.

And that, my fine-feathered friends is (now) what San Francisco is all about.

Call it whatcha like -- "antiquing" or adorning your apartment with a "gently used" Laz-e-Boy from the Goodwill. However this reuse and rehabilitation of resources dovetails as smoothly as a recycled old-growth redwood wood joint with the vision and mandates for "green sustainability" in our fair city by Mayor Gavin "Green is Good" Newsom.

(Now that he's got his Exploratory Committee up-and-running for the 2010 California State Gubernatorial Race, Newsom has developed an even keener interest in paper that is both green and adorned with the visages of "antique" presidents).

Anyhoo, back at the ranch, Gatti was zooming around in artistic elation: "Everything here is amazing! We're all going crazy!"

Indeed. Especially as Stanlee's "sold" sticker was stuck a number of purchases at the party.

"I really can just look and enjoy the pieces as works of art," demurred Committee member Eileen Michael.

Of course that was before she entered the booth of Katy Kane (specializing in couture vintage wear and accessories) and went mad for a fabulous little black cocktail dress: "Oh, just look at the lace on this!!"

As we made the rounds of booths, it seemed that every time we passed Mondo Cane we spotted local designer Will Wick ogling the gallery's collection of rare Carl Aubock objects ... including rare wooden hangers. All yours, for a mere $500 per pop.

Prices ran the gamut from top dollar to affordable (well, if you're not a reporter). And the vintage jewelry is eye-poppingly fabulous.

As a patron pondered a pair of fabulous "Wishbone" wood chairs by Espenet (at $30K each) in the Reform Gallery booth, he almost felt the need for a hit of oxygen: "Just one of those chairs costs more than my house remodel!"

Ambient music wafter throughout the tricked-out hall where caterer Paula LeDuc got with the modernist menu, too: she created cubist food towers from which guests could nibble and nosh on her classic-with-a-twist crudites.

Our personal favorite: a row of glass test-tubes filled with three different kinds of sweet end-of-summer gazpacho.

For architect Andrew Skurman, SF20 gets a solid two-thumbs-up: "It's a fantastic show! Even better? It will also educate people on this wonderful era of design."

"There are a lot of interesting and well-priced pieces here," Skurman pointed out. "There was a piece that looks just like a Nevelson, but it wasn't. There was a piece that looked just like a Leger, but it wasn't.

"You can get a lot of bang for your buck at SF20!"

And as ... Hey, wait a minute! Get yer mitts off that exotically architectural Ado Chale brass and beige crystal table lamp that lists for $30K.

I saw it first!


SF20 Committee Members Trevor and Alexis Traina

SF20 Committee Members Caley and Heidi Castelein, Angelique and Troy Griepp

SF20 Committee Member Stanlee Gatti with supporters Bradley and Chris James

SF20 Committee member Eileen Michael and Mark Krinsky

SF20 Committee Member Bita Daryabari with Dr. Reza Malek, Laleh and Ali Kazemi

SF20 Committee Member Allison Speer with Kate Harbin and Patrice Lovato

SF20 Committee Members Randi Fisher and her husband, SFMOMA Trustee Bob Fisher

SF Protocol Director Matthew Goudeau with SF20 Committee Members Cathy Topham and Tipping Point Founder Daniel Lurie

Modernist tableaux

Leigh Matthes, Adriane Iann and gallerists John and Gretchen Berggruen

Katie Schwab with her folks, SFMOMA Board Chairman Charles Schwab, and his wife Helen Schwab who served as SF20 Honorary co-chairmen

Katie Schwab (center) with SF20 Committee Member and SFMOMA Trustee Becca Prowda and her brother, Zack Prowda

Julie and Ken Erwin with dealers Benjamin Storck and Patrick Dragonette

Jenna and Bryan Hunt

Gumps' Creative Consultant Nelson Bloncourt and Susie Tompkins Buell

Designers Charles de Lisle and Ralph Dennis with the SS Normandy gates

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