Sara Godwin

Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

San Francisco Fall Antiques Show: See-Worthy Antiques

In Antiques, Baby Boomers, San Francisco, Travel on October 25, 2012 at 10:43 pm

What do you do when the opening Gala party for the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show you’ve been working on for a year suddenly collides with the San Francisco Giants first game of  baseball’s World Series? Simple: Set up a huge flat-screen television tuned to the game in the Pavilion lecture hall  (CHECK),  tell the the caterer to show up with a mini-hot dog stand, complete with condiments  (CHECK), organize the roving waiters to offer a small-scale version of Playland’s iconic It’s-Its (CHECK), and somehow reconcile yourself to the fact that some of San Francisco’s most elegantly-attired antiques cognoscenti are going to be sporting black-and-orange baseball caps  (SIGH).  It worked.  It was a huge hit with the Gala-goers; and when the Giants won the game (Sandoval hit THREE home runs!), the roar of the crowd could be heard all along the  waterfront from Fort Mason to the Marina Green.

The women were stylish, the men were debonair,  and the buzz was electric.  Diane B. Wilsey and Diane Keaton were both observed deeply engaged in separate conversations as I wandered through the Pavilion with Ben Marks, Senior Editor at  Collectors were deeply engaged in conversations with the dealers and fellow collectors. Still others in attendance were deeply engaged in the caviar, oysters on the half-shell, mounds of shrimp, three sorts of pasta,  specifically, variations on a theme of ricotta ravioli, baby lamb chops, smoked salmon,  and more.  Then there were the desserts:  doll-size blueberry tartlets, chocolate pots de creme, fresh raspberries and strawberries, and a choice of tortes.  It was perfectly possible to eat an entirely healthy, green-based meal, but I sincerely hope no one did. This was a night for delicious indulgence.  Not incidentally, every penny raised by the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show goes to support Enterprise for High School Students, which teaches youngsters everything they need to know to get and keep a job, and then offers a job board as well.  In hard-pressed times, there is no more useful service.

Drawing dealers from New York, Paris, and London as well as the Bay Area, the wealth of offerings ranges far and wide. Steinitz/32 (77 rue de Faubourg St. Honore, Paris) , one of France’s leading dealers in 17th and 18th century antiques has framed his space in English boiserie recently purchased from the Huntington Library collection, then filled the space with pieces that would be treasures in any home in any country in any century. The marriage casque of book-matched tortoiseshell, pewter, and brass that I mentioned yesterday is one; a superb architect’s desk that opens up like a flower with a drafting board and shelves and multiple moving parts is another.  This is the sort of space that requires the  judicious use of a handkerchief to remain within the boundaries of socially acceptable.  One really ought not to breathe heavily and drool, however much one admires such splendid things.

Striking a different note entirely are the adjacent spaces, Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques/18 and Obsolete/40.  American Antiques/18  (   specializes in beautifully framed American flags with widely  varying numbers of stars and stripes.  There is also a  flag of the California Republic, complete with grizzly bear, and others equally effective at bringing our history home. Next door, Obsolete/40 ( specializes in the whimsical, with a mechanical cow that captured my heart, and and an equally charming little gray elephant that appears to be emphatically shaking its head “NO”.  (Whether or not you view this as a commentary on the upcoming elections depends entirely on your politics.)

From London, John Jaffa/44 ( has brought a writer’s travel box, filled with inkwells, letter openers,  and a wax seal .  By comparison with how badly I want this, Jimmy Carter knows absolutely nothing about lusting in one’s heart .  Jaffa also has dozens of  exquisite enamel  Faberge boxes by  as well as delicately contrived silver ‘vinaigrettes’ to carry my lady’s smelling salts should a tight corset, a crowd, or close weather indicate an impending swoon. Spencer Marks/13 ( from Southampton, Massachusetts also has ‘vinagrettes’ along with a full canteen of Tiffany’s ‘American Chrysanthemum’ sterling silver in immaculate condition.

Just for pure fun, take a look at American Garage/8 (  Looking for wonderful wooden signs ?  They’re here.  Always wanted to pull the lever to order a steamship ‘full steam ahead’?  It’s here.  Have a pool house that needs decorating with vintage wool bathing costumes?  They’re all right here.

There’s more, of course, much more.  That’s the reason that you need to go to the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason between now and Sunday, October 28, 2012 to see the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show for yourself.  It’s open daily from 10:30 am to 7:pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 112 noon to 5:pm Sunday.   Tickets are $20 at the door and children under 12 are free.   The Lectures tent will be used for a really good series of lectures, so check those out in your program when you arrive. You can check on the World Series scores on your iPhone or just ask any passing stranger.


San Francisco Fall Antiques Show: Objects of Desire For Which You’ll Probably Need A Handkerchief

In Antiques, San Francisco, Travel on October 24, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Just got back from the first Press Preview of the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show which opens tomorrow, Thursday, October 25, 2012  at  Fort Mason Festival Pavilion at 10:30 am sharp. Be there when the doors open, and don’t forget your handkerchief: The exquisite,  intricately-worked objets are pretty much guaranteed to make you drool.  Centered around a nautical theme, the variety alone is enough to turn your head inside-out.  The lenders displays range from whale’s tooth scrimshaw to antique Canton porcelain bowls memorializing a shipwreck, with depictions of a three-masted sailing ship, both pre-and-post tempest.  There are children’s motorboat pond sailers and a massive ship’s model that anyone ever intrigued by the mystique of  sea-faring would cheerfully do despicable things to possess.  And all this is before you get to the dealers, who have come from seven different countries to tempt, and I must say, they have done a splendid job of doing so.  I found myself lured even by things in which I have never before so much as expressed an interest.

The first display is of an armada of 120 ships,  deconstructed and reconstructed, in obsessive detail. It is perfectly possible to lose yourself — and all sense of time — examining the hulls, sails, rigging, sheets, hatches and more than there is time for me to describe or you to read.  First displayed in Venice, California, they drew crowds day and night, with children as fascinated as their parents.  Across the center aisle, Nicholas Brawer  (28 East 72nd Street at Madison Avenue, NYC; 212/772-2664/  will turn your head around 180 degrees with fully restored stainless steel and brass Nikon Japanese Naval binoculars dating from World War II.  They are beautiful even if they were not functional, and, as it happens. they are.  No home with a view of the Bay should be without one of these; it will make everything else in your living fade to insignificance. With the America’s Cup looming large on the horizon, what further justification, what additional incentive,  could one possibly require?

There is more, much more, but I must shower and change to be back in time for the show’s Preview Gala tonight.  I’ve solemnly sworn not to post any photos until after 1o:pm tonight, so check in for the review of the Preview Gala and photos tomorrow.  The San Francisco Fall Antiques Show runs from Thursday, October 25th to Sunday, October 28th, so don’t miss it. Tomorrow: The French book-matched tortoise-shell and brass marriage casque dating from the reign of King Louis XVI at Steinitz/Booth 32, the mechanical cow at Obsolete/Booth 40, and the vintage wool bathing costumes at American Garage/Booth 8.

Ah, New York: Way Too Hot, and Totally Cool

In Baby Boomers, New York, Travel on October 11, 2012 at 9:20 pm

I’m a California girl. I believe that good weather is my birthright. New York City, specifically Manhattan,  does not feel obligated to acknowledge my birthright.  It is hot — the mid-90s — and muggy.  Not quite so muggy that you could drown by taking a deep breath, but close.  Very close.  On the other hand, California doesn’t have Broadway.  To see Broadway shows, you gotta go to where they live. That being the case, that’s what I did.

The first stop is to drop off the bags at a friend’s Upper East Side piéd-a-terre, easy walking distance from the East River, a longer jaunt to Central Park, straight down 63rd.  The second stop is TKTS (pronounced “Tee Kay Tee Ess” , not ‘tickets’), a subway ride away at 47th just east of Broadway in Times Square.  I use the time standing in what looks like a really long line to review the Broadway shows with seats available for that night.  The TKTS box offices open at 3:pm, sell only seats for that evening, and the line moves surprisingly fast. (Check out before you go to see which shows are offering discounts.) In the category of useful general information, many theaters are dark on Monday nights, and curtain time is usually 8:pm. Discounts range from 25% to 50%. There are separate lines for Broadway musicals and plays. If a play’s the thing, ask to be directed to that line; it’s way shorter.  Me, I’m there for the music.

‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ has music by George and Ira Gershwin, and a seriously silly plot, to the extent that it can be said to have a plot at all. I would listen to the Gershwins if they were playing scales, so a playlist that includes “Someone To Watch Over Me”, “Fascinating Rhythm”,  ” ‘S Wonderful”,  “Lady Be Good”, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”,  and “But Not For Me”,  was all it took to gain a firm grip on my attention. There’s also a little sleeper tune I’d never heard before called “Blah, Blah, Blah,” that’s worth the price of the ticket all by itself. (According to a 1983 New York Times review of a Tommy Tunes and Twiggy show (don’t ask), the Gershwins originally wrote it to be a send-up on how to write a love song for “Delicious”, a 1931 Janet Gaynor ( don’t ask) film musical.)  Here it’s used as a love song, and it’s a charmer.

Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara do the best that can be done with the goofy script (O’Hara was nominated for both a Tony and  the Drama Desk Award for ‘Best Actress in a Musical’) and the  dancing is spirited.  Besides, you don’t want to miss Estelle Parsons doing a star turn in the last act as the only sensible person in the entire play.   Truth be told, given the Gershwin music, they all could have stood on a bare stage in front of mikes and read the phone directory, and I’d have stayed to listen.

Having filled my  required quota of grins and giggles, my husband and I swanned off to Sardi’s, the classic Broadway café, for a late dinner. The time between ordering and serving can be spent amusing oneself with the hundreds Richard Baratz’s caricatures of celebrities from both coasts that line the walls from the wainscot to the ceiling. (Baratz is the sole caricaturist at Sardi’s; Al Hirschfeld did caricatures, but none at Sardi’s.)  We were especially pleased to get ‘our’ table, back against the side wall with its perfect view of  of everyone coming in and going out.  Sardi’s is not about the food; it’s about who’s there and who’s not, about seeing and being seen, about who you recognize, and sometimes, about who recognizes you.  Think of it as an extension of the theatre: It’s all about watching.

Speaking of Al Hirschfeld, (see the parenthesis just a few sentences ago), there’s an opulent theatre at 320 45th Street (Built as the Martin Beck Theatre in 1924) that was named for him in 2003.  It was there that Fela! opened for a 32-day limited engagement (July-August, 2012), and if the place still has a roof, it’s a miracle.  That opening night performance was all about the cast trying to blow the roof off the place with Fela’s AfroBeat songs and the wildest dancing I’ve ever seen.  A BioMusical based on the life of the Nigerian activist songwriter, the plot hangs lightly on the highlights of his life and career, but Fela’s politics aren’t the reason to see this.  The singing and dancing have been blowing audiences away since it first opened on Broadway in November, 2009. It received eleven Tony nominations in 2010, and won Best ChoreographyBest Costume Design of a Musical, and Best Sound Design of a Musical .  It starts before the audience is seated, and just doesn’t quit.  Noisy, colorful, and compelling, I walked out with my head spinning.  The touring company has done — and is doing — shows all over the world.  When it gets to your place on the planet, go!

In between shows, we walked the length of the High Line and watched New York’s multi-barge Fourth of July Fireworks, but that’s for another post.