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Parties: An Artful Return to Revelry

By Catherine Bigelow with photography by Drew Altizer

“Activation” was the theme — and spirit — as culture vultures of all ages clamored to SFMOMA on April 8 in a lively renewal of its Art Bash fundraising party. The multilayered soiree raised more than $2 million for SFMOMA’s free education and community engagement programs, while wowing the crowd with oodles of activities and live performances.

Some 2,350 guests gaily roamed gallery floors, among artists doing their thing in the wild. A DJ-accompanied slideshow reeled through eras of works by photographer Michael Jang, some of which are in the museum’s permanent collection. Artist DJ Agana and graffiti artist Vogue live-painted the street art on their entry for SFMOMA’s Soapbox Derby, held a couple of days later in McLaren Park. Even some of the museum’s multihued restrooms were gussied up with graphic art by Fernando Garcia and his San Ferncisco Studio.

The event, which offered tiered ticketing, really kicked to life at 8 p.m., all around the museum, as a younger crowd boogied to the Linda Lindas (including a special guest, Go-Go’s drummer Gina Schock), Nite Jewel and DJ Miles Medina, who, atop the rooftop pavilion, brought the fete’s rousing finale to a close at 1 a.m.

For deep-pocketed patrons, there was a live auction, including an NFT, natch, of actress Tilda Swinton by artist Lynn Hershman Leeson. Bidding was led by Christie’s ambassador Lydia Fenet, who enthusiastically encouraged one guest to “scoop up” a Jeff Koons “Teddy Bear Mirror (Green)” (1998) — ultimately the auction’s top earner — donated to the cause from the storied collection of late SFMOMA patrons Norah and Norman Stone.

A delish three-course McCalls dinner in Schwab Hall was set among a design dreamed up by artist Sarah Cain, a previous SECA Art Award winner. Her psychedelic wallcoverings and napkins included details from her painting “Walk in lightly, leave like lightning” (2022).

Cain’s tablescapes were in collaboration with floral artist Shelley Pehrson, who crafted paper flowers that filled handcast vases by the People’s Pottery Project. This nonprofit — which provides a healing environment and work opportunities for formerly incarcerated women as well as transgender and nonbinary individuals — also crafted dinner chargers, all gifted to guests.

“As we all know, it’s been a very difficult couple of years,” noted SFMOMA Chair Bob Fisher. “We so appreciate your support to this museum and the belief that art can transform all lives.”

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