The Party Line


In spite of the invitation's ominous admonishment ("Dinner, Finger-pointing, Denials, Live Auction and Immediate Resignations"), it was all peace, love and Obama down at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts last week where Artists Ball 7: The New Party '08 won a decisive victory in the fight for your right to party -- as well as access to and support of great local artists and art.

This swinging biennial soiree featured a super sit-down supper for YBCA patrons that followed with a rollicking Spin Magazine-sponsored dance party (starring Mos Def) outdoors, geared to (and priced for) the late-night revelers and hipsters among us.

Leading in the Field polls, per usual? Designer and party pooh-bah Stanlee Gatti who scored (another) major hit (honestly, Gatti -- isn't it time for you to take a vacation? I'm starting to run out of super soiree superlatives in which to describe your decor delights) with his zany convention-style red-white-and-blue polka-dotted decor -- both inside the YBCA theater and outdoors in the sculpture garden.

But, good news, art lovers: Gatti FINALLY got his peace signs -- if only for one night. As these towering balloon structures that greeted guests were, obviously, rather ephemeral in nature instead of his long-desired Tony Labat-issue sculpture.

"What I love about this party is the fact that you can have a real conversation and ask people what they actually think of the debates," enthused arts patron Brenda Jewett.

Real, and real fun, it was: Cocktails, canapes and main courses (with clever names such as Congressional Beggars Purses and Lynne Cheney's Buck-shot Bird) were served up by caterer Paula LeDuc. And a SmartCar painted by Rex Ray was the star of the auction; the artist even offering to paint a second car which helped raise almost 60K for YBCA's Fund for New Work and Commissions Program.

From the snappy Elixir invitation (an only-in-San-Francisco voter pamphlet designed by naughty-nutty Chronicle cartoonist, Don Asmussen) and the stellar steering committee (Stacey Welsh, Sarah Woodward, Jan Zivic, Heather Hartle, Petra Schumann) to the visionary leadership of YBCA (Executive Director Ken Foster, Development Director Charles Ward, Board Chairwoman Zivic), this non-gala gala is always good times all-around.

Gatti, in fact, is on such a gala roll this Fall that he was even "congratulated" on the sassy post-dinner set by members of Beach Blanket Babylon.

Actually, that credit is due to BBB producer Jo Schuman Silver, who laughed when she heard the news. Silver is also on a roll with her fabulous show, daily skewering this season's top politicos (Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin) in the most delightful fashion.

Adhering to the invite's instructions to wear either "Inaugural Attire" or "Dress Your Press Conference Best," guests gleefully donned the gamut -- from full-on politico-themed costumes to black-tie gracefully adorned by artist Shepard Fairey's colorful Obama HOPE tie.

Even arts doyenne and iconic style-setter Dodie Rosekrans got into the swing of things -- from her elegant suit lapel sporting an Obama pin all the way down to her tippy-toes which were sheathed in gold Commes des Garçon saddle shoes.

And a big Uncle Sam hats-off to Farah Makras who unleashed her uncanny, inner Sarah Palin, merely by pinning her hair into bun-and-bangs, adding some eye glasses and wearing a most appalling polyester power-red suit. Et viola .... Doppleganger-city!

"I was standing on Chestnut Street hailing a cab to get down here and I realized that people were staring at me," said the normally uber-stylish Makras. "All of the sudden I worried that if someone in San Francisco really thought I was Sarah Palin they might shoot me!"

While we remain cautiously optimistic that the outcome of the Nov. 4 election won't force Gatti to secede and declare the formation of a separate Stanlee State, we did wonder, just what comprises The New Party?

"How the hell would I know? I gave all that up," chortled the Hon. Willie L. Brown, Jr., who served as this party's newly minted auctioneer extraordinaire. "Now I never have to be politically correct anymore."

Hmm. And all along we thought that "politically incorrect" was his official party line.

See photos fom this party

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