Like its atmospheric namesake, the recent Fog Design + Art exposition extended its shift-shaping tendrils far beyond Fog’s Festival Pavilion HQ at Fort Mason Center. And San Francisco’s art scene — encompassing gallerists, collectors, artists and influencers — was activated in extreme animation.
No official designation exists for a San Francisco “Art & Design” week. But if one did, Fog would be it. Also amid this artistic swirl:
Fog’s official Jan. 15 preview gala (its seventh edition) was a tiered fete (with first dibs shopping-opps for deep-pocketed $10K ducat donors) and a McCalls cocktail buffet benefiting arts and education programs at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
But on Jan. 14, just hours before the annual pre-Fog Mission Bowling bash (hosted by gallerists Jeffrey Fraenkel, Frish Brandt, Luhring Augustine), Dr. Seth Matarasso joined the fray, opening his Pacific Heights pad for a Sotheby’s tour of his 20th century art collection.
“This is the most people I’ve ever had in my home,” joked Matarasso. “My collection began 16 years ago when Jennifer Biederbeck (Sotheby’s San Francisco senior VP), shared catalogs with works by Tom Wesselmann, an artist my parents collect. So that Thanksgiving, I went home and tried to take it off their wall. A week later, my dad sent it to me.”
When Biederbeck introduced Matarasso to Gabriela Palmieri, a former Sotheby’s colleague-turned-art consultant, the good doctor was hooked.
“I’ve developed a passion for art,” explained Matarasso, with a laugh. “So somebody better marry me quick because I don’t know to whom I’ll leave this collection.”
The next night, Fog billowed in full force with 2,000 glammed-out guests at the preview gala led by Fog co-founder Stanlee Gatti, Douglas Durkin, Susan Swig, Roth Martin, Katie Schwab Paige, Allison Speer and Sonya Yu; with honorary chairs TPG founding partner Jim Coulter and his wife, SFMOMA trustee Penny Coulter.
Traversing booths, SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra noted that he and his colleagues every year travel to world art fairs (Basel, London, Hong Kong, Miami). But with acres of art, those fairs are exhausting and impersonal.
“Some feel more like trade shows, looking at product instead of art,” he said. “While Fog has grown, it retains intimacy, quality and is a true expression of San Francisco. Combining art and design together, FOG exemplifies that bigger is not better. Better is better. And the passionate pride our community takes in Fog is like nothing else in the art world.”
Pavilion environs were exquisitely tricked-out by Gatti, with a red carpet linking 48 global gallerists including Hauser + Wirth, Ratio 3, Marian Goodman, Jessica Silverman, R & Company, Lebreton, Crown Point Press, Levy Gorvy, Haines Gallery, Perrotin and storied gallerist John Berggruen, who, with his wife, Gretchen Berggruen, is celebrating 50 years in the biz.
Even McCalls got creative, augmenting its classic filet mignon platters with roving food carts dishing up tamales and fried chicken sliders.
The four-day fair, attracting 15,000 visitors, also featured a pop-up Park Life (the Clement Street gallery owned by Jamie Alexander and Derek Song) and panels on digital collecting as well as on food/design/art, and a conversation with artist Rashaad Newsome, whose exhibition (“To Be Real” through Feb. 23) stars next door at the San Francisco Art Institute’s gallery on Fort Mason’s Pier 2.
On Jan. 16, Fog’s Innovator Lunch honored Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky (a Rhode Island School of Design graduate turned tech titan) with its treasured Fog Machine award following a lively conversation with angel investor Ron Conway.
“It took Conrad Hilton a hundred years to build his 6,000 hotels with 950,000 rooms in 110 countries. It took Brian just 12 years to get 7 million listings in 100,000 cities in 220 countries,” enthused Jim Coulter, introducing this conversation. “One of the hardest things for an innovator is to continue to innovate. But Brian not only developed Airbnb Experiences, booking 1 million experiences a month, he also runs the largest global network of yurts.”
Whether Fog fans are major collectors, blue chip gallerists or enthusiasts scoring a last-minute, $32 ticket, the beating heart of Fog belongs to 21POP, back this year in a hand-crafted Op-Art entry pavilion of emerging artists curated by Stanlee Gatti.
Sporting the theme “2020: Seeing Things,” works for sale were created by students, graduates and faculty of California College of the Arts.
“The genesis of 21POP is highlighting artists who still handcraft objects in a digital world. ‘Seeing Things’ is a nod to perfect vision and interpretation, how an artist sees the objects they create,” explained Gatti, a CCA trustee. “And there’s no better way to express that idea than in works made by students of arts and crafts from one of the world’s great art institutes.”
Catherine Bigelow is The San Francisco Chronicle’s society correspondent. Email: [email protected] Instagram: @missbigelow