It’s easier to blame the full moon than explain why any of the flawlessly chic crowd at Norah and Norman Stone’s Calistoga Stonescape artfarm would muss their hair/mascara/demeanor for a postprandial swim. You could say it was the abundant Azalea Springs vintage of the house, paired with Paula Le Duc’s delectable height-of- summer family-style supper, the just-shucked oyster shooters, or the irressistable Evan Shively pizzettas. You could say it was the Pachmama Alliance samba sound, which turned everything from Beatles to Beach Boys into a charming cha-cha cover. You could say it was the inspired participation of the “Politics is Personal” art opening, complete with before-your-eyes performance piece by Rirkrit Tiravanija and his posse of Indonesian art assistants. But really, it was the Turrell.Being able to swim INTO a James Turrell light sculpture under the watchful gaze of the elusive, white bearded James Turrell himself was just too tempting for the Basel/Biennale/Bonham’s contemporary crowd. Ever the gracious hosts, the Stones had thoughtfully provided swimsuits and even logoed swim caps to make this ultimate art experience accessible, although diving through the underwater portal and into the glowing, beckoning cube was your own experience to curate. You could have just as easily walked the property with Norman in his sequin hoodie and wry smile, accompanied by his trusty Jack Russell. Or snatched one of the just-cranked cones of strawberry ice cream to accompany your just-pulled shot of fierce, fully-caffeinated espresso for the faraway drive over the bridge. Or marvelled at thought-of-everything hostess Norah, resplendent in midnight raffia and rhinestones, escorting guests with her flashlight along the lavender allee. Or preened in your art-installation-cum-party-favor, a T-shirt silkscreened with the provocative “POLICE THE POLICE” designed by Rirkrit Tiravanija to accompany charcoal images drawn directly to the walls as the introduction to the exhibition curated by Thea Westrich. Or lingered over conversation at the long fallen-redwood table surrounded by sequoias shading the stars. Or accompanied guest curator Markus Reiman from Berlin describe Lebanese artist Walid Raad’s remarkable exhibit exactly miniaturized to 1/100th scale. Or you could have just had a fabulous, midsummer dream of a night, wet or dry, bathed in the deeply satisfying glow of ever-changing Turrell Skyspan on the deck, and the white glow of lunar loveliness.
Among those rolling with the Stones: Napa neighbors including the artfully dressed Peter Lenz, wine legend Bill Harlan, Master Sommelier Gilles du Chambour, a swath of the SF set, including Barbara and Ron George, Helen Hilton Raiser accompanied by University of Michigan Museum Director Joe Rosa, Dr. Seth Matarasso, Gretchen de Baubigny, Kay and Sandy Walker, Diane and Matthew Kelly, Pam and Dick Kramlich, Alaia-adorned Abby Turin with Jon Gans, Pam and Larry Baer, Sabrina Buell and Yves Behar, who added his own imprimatur to the Rirkrit instillation, Jennifer Biederbeck, Tiffany Shlain, a vision in her Venetian straw hat, with hubby and co-collaborator Ken Goldberg, curator Sandra Phillips with artist Sephen Vincent, Frisch Brandt, Gretchen Berggruen, Eric von Muller and Lee Plested, international art figures Glenn Helfan, Elvind Furnesvik, Kevin Hackett, Brian and Katie Butler, Chris Perez, elusive exhibited artist Matia Faldbakken, a batch of New Yorkers including Dede Brooks, and artcave architects Jane Stogeburg, Timothy Bade, and Martin Cox, catalog collaborator Ethan Wagner, curator Suzanne Modica, Darius Himes, James McConnell, Audrey and Edward Glover in from London, full of charming tales of pre-Norman Norah, and many more fortunate friends who gather no moss but will gladly gather at Stonescape.
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