Private Collections Takes Design Lovers Behind Closed Doors

Walking the streets of San Francisco after work, I sometimes get glimpses of the city's great private art collections—a corner of a painting, the top of a sculpture or a bit of a photograph—visible through distant lit windows. But, once a year, I get to walk into some of these amazing homes instead of walking by them, thanks to one of SF's best fundraising events: Private Collections.

The April 18th event, which raises money for Enterprise for High School Students, allows ticket holders to take an owner-led tour of great art collections. That's the wonderful part: hearing firsthand how these people assembled a collection, learning about their motivations and getting to ask them questions directly. Without exception, the owners whose homes I've toured have been welcoming, forthcoming and utterly fascinating.

The price of admission (from $100) gains you entrance to one of seven homes—and selecting just one is the only thing I don't love about this event. How to choose between a Sea Cliff home with water views and works of art from around the globe and a Cow Hollow home that holds an important collection of male nude photographs that (according to the event website) is "rich with obsessions, curiousities and glamour?"

At least I can eliminate the Sproule/Rowen collection from my personal list. As chance would have it, I've scouted this John Lum-designed home in Cole Valley for California Home+Design. I can assure you that the arresting architecture and stunning black-and-white photography collection that includes artists such as Diane Arbus and Hiroshi Sugimoto are well worth the ticket price. If you want a sneak peek at a home from last year's tour, we featured Sabrina Buell's South Park home (seen above) in a previous issue. Take the whole tour here!

Tickets are available through the Private Collections website.

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