Parties: Wayne’s World

Written by Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Drew Altizer

On the eve of his 101st birthday, renowned painter and UC Davis professor emeritus Wayne Thiebaud received an understandable pass to stay home in lieu of attending a November 13 gala in his honor. Yet this swell soiree held at the university’s Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art — which raised a record $480K in support of the museum’s free educational outreach and exhibition programs and the new Wayne Thiebaud Legacy Fund — drew a sold-out crowd of 160 philanthropists, collectors, educators, fans and family friends.

At the event, led by cochairs Maria Manetti Shrem, Pamela Kramlich and LeShelle May, guests included Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom; arts champion Deedee McMurtry; artist Mike Henderson; advisory board members Lorna Meyer Calas and Clint Reilly, as well as his wife and fellow co-owner of the Gazette, UC Regent Janet Reilly; and the Sisters Stone — Allison Stone Stabile, Jeremy Stone and Heather Stone, whose late father, N.Y. gallerist Allan Stone, gave Thiebaud his first gallery show and remained lifelong friends with the painter.

Rachel Teagle, founding director of the museum, presented the Margrit Mondavi Arts Medallion to the Wayne Thiebaud Foundation — a family effort dreamed up by the painter’s late son, gallerist Paul Thiebaud, and now led by his stepbrother Matt Bult, a son of Thiebaud’s late wife and muse, Betty Jean Thiebaud.

Though it was the closing night of Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation, guests got a sneak peek at 24 Thiebaud works gifted in February by the artist and his foundation to the university’s Fine Arts Collection — a perfect present for the museum, also celebrating its fifth anniversary.

“The very architecture of our building highlights Wayne’s love of shadows and light,” noted Teagle, who recounted that “following a private tour of New Generation, Matt called to let me know that Wayne wanted us to have better examples of his work. With those gifts, our museum and Professor Thiebaud’s art are forever intertwined.”

Following a farm-to-fork feast prepared by UC Davis’ senior executive chef Kue Her and Santana Diaz, executive chef at UC Davis Health, guests were anxious to dive into the Thiebaud-inspired cakes that adorned each table. But UC Davis Chancellor Gary May teased he’d already spied fingerprints in the lush pastel frosting.

“Beyond his artistic accomplishments and commitment to educating generations of students, I’m grateful for Wayne’s enduring dedication to UC Davis,” toasted Chancellor May. “His famous cake paintings are just a part of his brilliance. Thiebaud encourages us to see the world in a more textural light, where common objects can ascend to profound, iconic heights.”

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