You know it's a hot and happenin' night when meeting actress Annette Bening is only one of the things on your to-do list. But that's the way it was with three glittery, big-ticket fundraisers taking place in downtown San Jose -- all within walking distance of the others.
Bening, the star of "American Beauty" and "The Kids Are All Right," was the honorary chair of the Silicon Valley Capital Club's annual charity gala Saturday night, which this year supported Children's Musical Theater of San Jose with a performance-filled dinner.
Her brother, San Jose attorney Brad Bening, has been a longtime supporter and board member of CMTSJ, and her niece, Ashley Bening, is an alumna performer of the company.
The film star, who had her start in nonprofit theater in San Diego, was very gracious to the crowd of about 200 who filled the Capital Club's dining room on the 17th floor of the Fairmont Plaza building. She chatted with people about kids and theater experiences and posed for photos. Even Rep. Zoe Lofgren got to be a little star-struck rubbing elbows with Bening, who was accompanied by her 12-year-old daughter, Ella. (Alas, husband Warren Beatty wasn't there.)
Meanwhile, at the Fairmont Hotel next door, Sunnyvale resident Judy Santiago and her family were being honored with the La Familia Award at the Hispanic Foundation Ball. Both San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Sunnyvale Mayor Tony Spitaleri were there to congratulate the Santiago family,
The high-powered crowd of more than 800 included Jorge Titinger, CEO of Fremont-based SGI; Silicon Valley Community Foundation CEO Emmett Carson; American Red Cross Silicon Valley CEO Barb Larson; community leaders Mary Ellen and Michael E. Fox Sr., and Cecily and Fernando Zazueta, whose family was honored at last year's ball.
And just across the Circle of Palms, the San Jose Museum of Art had more than 200 people at its Full Spectrum gala, with a dinner and auction taking place in the upstairs gallery amid the festive hues of the current "Local Color" exhibition. The generous group of art patrons made more than $50,000 in donations during the "fund a need" portion of the live auction.
Most guests seemed to get into the spirit of the evening with colorful and elegant attire (Museum Executive Director Susan Krane certainly led by example with a stunning two-tone outfit). But perhaps more stunning were the living pieces of art in the museum's lobby: Three nearly nude models covered in body paint who posed inside picture boxes, where they would occasionally blend into the background in eerie fashion.
A few people, like me, were hopping from party to party, and by the end of the night, it seemed everyone left at all three venues was exhausted. But what a great testament to the valley's philanthropic side that three lively events could coexist for a night.