Mike and Yvonne Nevens shared some of their art-collecting wisdom Thursday night at Silicon Valley Contemporary, the San Jose art fair where the couple was honored as Arts Patrons of the Year.
The first tip is always to check out what's in the gallerist's office, since those are pieces that they see every day and are probably very special. "And then you ask if it's for sale, and at a gallery, the answer is always 'yes,' " said Mike Nevens, a former senior director at McKinsey & Co. who also is a past president of the board of trustees for the San Jose Museum of Art.
The second tip they relayed to the crowd at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center was to make sure both sides of a couple favor a piece. Yvonne Nevens said she would often banish Mike's more oddball purchases to his office, "But now that we're happily living at home in retirement, we have to agree," she said.
A former marketing director at the San Jose Museum of Art, Yvonne Nevens spent more than 10 years on the board of the Community School of Music and Art in Mountain View and now serves as chair of the Director's Council and on the Development Committee for the San Jose Museum of Art.
The couple received a commendation from San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed at the event and were interviewed on stage by San Jose Museum of Art Executive Director Susan Krane. The artful -- and standing room only -- crowd included Charmaine and Dan Warmenhoven, Laurie and Mike Warner, Alyce and Michael Parsons; ZERO1 Executive Director Joel Slayton; and Peter Hirshberg, co-founder of the San Francisco-based Gray Area Foundation for the Arts.
ART FOR BITCOINS: KM Fine Arts may have made history during Silicon Valley Contemporary's VIP preview Thursday night when the gallery, with locations in Chicago and L.A., sold a Hans Hofmann piece as well as another by Dana Louise Kirkpatrick for more than 40 bitcoins. As far as anyone knows that was the first-ever bitcoin sale at an art fair, and it only makes sense it took place here.
Those weren't the only sales on the first night of the art fair, which is featuring pieces from more than 50 worldwide galleries through Sunday at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. A Jasper Johns piece sold for more than $20,000, and an untitled painting by Mark Flood went for $80,000.
"It's like a mini Art Basel in Miami," said Ramune Ambrozaitis, who was among the 2,000-plus people -- including a healthy number of out-of-towners -- who attended the preview night, browsing the displays, sipping wine and experiencing performance art by Tiffany Trenda, dressed in a red body suit adorned with smartphone screens.
Details and tickets are available at www.siliconvalleycontemporary.com.
LIGHT RAIL TURNS 25: It was an '80s flashback Friday morning to see Rod Diridon, the former Santa Clara County supervisor widely considered the "Father of Light Rail" in the county, waving from the window of the conductor's cab of a light-rail train as it rode into downtown.
He was among the elected officials -- past and present -- and other transit bigwigs celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Valley Transportation Authority's light-rail system, which now spans 42.2 miles and includes 60 stations throughout the county. The gaggle crowded into a surprisingly clean Fountain Alley at the Santa Clara Street station in downtown San Jose for the requisite speeches to mark the occasion.
San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra, the current VTA board chairman, presented Diridon with a "thank you" package that included a conductor's hat, a photo album and a train-themed quilt that was made by VTA employee Karen Grimes. The festivities continued at the grand opening of the VTA's new downtown service center on Santa Clara Street, about a half-block west of where the old one was.
FATHER KNOWS BEST: At the downtown San Jose opening Friday for Cafe Eden, owner Juan Kadah was quick to credit his father, Zag Kadah, for inspiring the Mediterranean restaurant, which will serve up the shawarma, falafels and other dishes from the elder Kadah's childhood.
"This is his vision, his dream," Kadah said of his father, who was there to enjoy the opening-day festivities at 2 N. First St.
FEAST OF A FUNDRAISER: The San Jose Rep's Blue Box Bash IV fundraiser, "The Moveable Feast," is coming up April 27, and I'm glad caterer Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme is taking its inspiration from next month's production of "The Big Meal" instead of the current run of "Game On," which features snacks made with bugs. PSRT plans a culturally diverse menu with stations featuring Italian, Mexican and American dishes that guests will eat on stage.
There'll be plenty of entertainment, too, with Summer Latimer -- who wowed audiences in "The Snow Queen" a few months back -- singing a few arias, and Los Altos artist Will Maller painting a piece live as the evening progresses. The finished painting will be auctioned off that night.
Tickets are $150 each, and you can get more details at www.sjrep.com.
THE BOOS HAVE IT: I wonder if Hillary Clinton was confused by all the boos from the Event Center audience at San Jose State when Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone was introduced to interview her after her speaking gig there Thursday.
It's a local tradition that Stone -- as the guy who decides our property taxes -- loves and encourages, but the barrage of boos Thursday might've been particularly strong. It was, after all, the same day property taxes were due.