San Francisco Chronicle
Opera, odes to Getty.
It ain’t easy picking out a birthday present for a billionaire. But as the 85th celebration for philanthropist-composer Gordon Getty approaches (December 2018), his wife, Ann Getty, finally figured out how to honor her husband — with a fundraiser celebrating his decades of arts philanthropy.
And being serenaded by Grammy Award-winning singer Jennifer Hudson as the sun slipped behind the vineyards of Odette Estate Winery in Napa was a stellar start. Led by emcee (and beloved mezzo-soprano)
Frederica von Stade, this fundraiser, “An Evening of Wine, Words & Song,” also featured rousing performances by actor Carl Lumbly and mezzosoprano Susan Graham with composer-pianist Jake Heggie.
Under the auspices of a new Getty family foundation, Arts + Earth Initiative, this inaugural effort benefits the Center for Contemporary Opera (in New York) and EarthJustice, the S.F.-based national environmental law firm. Mrs. G. and her family (including sons Peter
Getty, Billy Getty and his wife, Vanessa) established the initiative as a funding model to support charities making a difference in the chief philanthropic interests of their family: the arts and the environment.
“In honoring Gordon for his decades of achievement as a composer and philanthropist, I’m thrilled to celebrate his successes in combination with our latest endeavor by marrying our family’s longstanding commitment to the arts with our concern for the environment,” she said. “It’s no coincidence the word ‘art’ is at the center of the word ‘earth.’ The two cannot exist without the other.”
Throughout the fete, primo vino was poured from among PlumpJack Group properties — Odette is the third and recent recipient of LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Postperformance, guests savored a delectable fourcourse dinner by Meadowood Estate Events.
While the evening was intimate in scale and size, the 150-person guest list was a Who’s Who of the Bay Area arts scene and assorted heavy hitters.
Among culturati: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Director Larry Rinder; sound wizards Helen and John Meyer; Cal Performances Executive-Artistic Director Matías Tarnopolsky; S.F. Symphony President Sako Fisher; S.F. Conservatory of Music President David Stull; Festival Napa Valley CEO Rick Walker; S.F. Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock; as well as Rep. Nancy
Pelosi (D-San Francisco); Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom; EarthJustice President Trip Van Noppen; retired Judge William Newsom, an honorary EarthJustice Life Trustee; Getty’s high school pals Jim Halligan and John Mallen; environmental activist Louise Gund and her nephew, photographer George
Gund IV with his new bride, Gloriana Gund (mazel tov, lovebirds!).
Even as mid-octogenerian status looms, Getty isn’t resting on his laurels. He’s at work composing a new opera based on “Goodbye, Mr. Chips.” Getty has adapted two of his previous operas, “The Canterville Ghost” and “Usher House,” into two short works titled “The Scare Pair,” that will premiere in New York later this month.
“My deep and abiding admiration for Gordon Getty is founded not only in the beautiful, masterful music he writes, but for the greatness of heart with which it is imbued,” said Heggie. “Does Gordon have to write music? Yes, he does. It is imbued in every fiber of his being and one of the reasons he is on this planet.”
Common ground: Artistic VIPs recently convened in swirling fog at historic Fort Barry to celebrate the Commons, a new outdoor plaza adorned with site-specific, commissioned artworks crowning Headlands Center for the Arts.
The stellar host committee (Jim and Drusie Davis, Mary Robinson, Kaitlyn and Mike Krieger, Larry Mathews and Brian Saliman, Nancy and Steven Oliver, Headlands executive director sharon maidenberg) welcomed 200 loyal friends to celebrate with tours, harp music and bounteous bites by State Bird/The Progress chef-owners
Nicole Krasinksi and Stuart Brioza. Headlands board member-artist David Maisel was a primary force on the artist-led project that now enhances the experience for all — from daytime visitors to a rotating roster of international artist residents.
Welcoming supporters to the unveiling, Maisel wryly noted the project’s subtle yet powerful transformation of the historic military barracks: “Welcome to the Commons, formerly known as a dirt parking lot!”
Name changer: The recent di Rosa fundraiser, “Sundown, Get Down,” felt more like the dawn of a new day at this indoor-outdoor art enclave set on 217 scenic acres in Napa’s Carneros wine district.
Founded by late vintner-art collector (and former Chronicle reporter) Rene di Rosa, his collecting bug was sparked by counter-cultural artists of 1950s North Beach and the storied art department (Roy De Forest, William T. Wiley, Wayne Thiebaud) at UC Davis, where he studied viticulture. Following an alfresco reception with food trucks and the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, di Rosa Executive Director Robert Sain announced the vaunted space is now known as the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art.
The soiree also highlighted the center’s latest exhibition, “Be Not Still: Living in Uncertain Times,” and a live auction of artistic experiences raised $207K.
Photographer Jock McDonald spent summers on the magical property with his mom, Veronica
McDonald, and her husband, Rene di Rosa. “People often asked Rene how he knew to buy certain art. He’d respond, ‘Because it moved me,’ ” recalled McDonald. “So the collection is what I would call ‘an honest collection.’ It was built out of passion.”