Parties: An Arty Party

by Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Drew Altizer

The guest of honor on May 20 for the annual California College of the Arts gala chose safety over plaudits. But Cissie Swig — the renowned nonagenarian civic leader, a longtime champion of the arts and advocate for Jewish culture and preventing domestic abuse — beamed in from home, where she fondly watched the fete with her daughter Majorie Swig.

The 230 guests in attendance, including just about every other Swig family member, cheered on their beloved “Nana.” “Cissie has been an arts advocate for decades; her tireless efforts supporting art and artists have had an outsized impact on our community,”toasted CCA President Stephen Beal. “There are few San Franciscans more dedicated to investing in and realizing a better future for the Bay Area than Cissie.”

Organized by cochairs Kimberlee Swig and Stanlee Gatti, also CCA trustees, this artistic soiree featured Rye On The Road cocktails, student artworks and a masterful McCalls meal served in a colorful Gatti-designed tent set atop CCA’s courtyard — the future site of its new academic building that will join a recently opened dining hall and below-market-rate housing for 500 students, two-thirds of whom receive financial aid.

A whopping $1.5 million for scholarships was raised by many of the gala’s art poobahs, including Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Director Thomas Campbell, Fraenkel Gallery’s Frish Brandt, Ratio 3 gallerist Chris Perez, philanthropist Mimi Haas, architect Sandy Walker and spouse/former gallerist Kay Walker, and collector Dede Wilsey, who also led the charge to build the new de Young Museum.

Liam Mayclem fronted a live auction for a Wayne Thiebaud painting and a paddle raise to fund CCA’s new Roselyne C. Swig Scholarship for students with financial need — which kicked off with a $50K donation by Swig.

Following a tribute by YMCA president emeritus Chuck Collins — a decades-long friend and partner in Swig’s efforts to increase access and equity in the arts and civic life — the honoree weighed in. “I feel so loved and humbled by your praise,” said Swig. “But I thank all of you: It’s your commitment to arts, culture and the artists themselves that we move our community, our country and our world forward. May we all continue in our quest to do good, with involvement, respect and nurturing.”

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