Colin B. Bailey Shares His Favorite Places to Go in San Francisco


colin b bailey
Colin B. Bailey

Photo Credit: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

These are busy times for Colin B. Bailey, who is in his second year as Director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. He’s preparing for the opening of “Keith Haring: The Political Line,” on display at the de Young from Nov. 8, 2014 to Feb. 16, 2015, as well as “High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection,” which runs from March 14, 2015 to July 19, 2015 at the Legion of Honor. First up, though, is today’s “The Art of Fashion,” a runway show and luncheon featuring the Spring 2015 Collection of iconic designer Carolina Herrera at the de Young. The event, co-hosted with Saks Fifth Avenue, marks Herrera’s first fashion show in San Francisco since 2011.

Haute Living caught up with the Bailey, who speaks with a British accent, at the recent 22nd annual Celebrity Pool Toss to ask him how he’s adjusting to life in the City by the Bay after making his home in New York, where he was Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator at The Frick Collection. Here, he shares where he likes to dine, especially late night, shop and enjoy cultural offerings.

HL: How are you finding San Francisco?
CB: I find that it’s a city that has so much going for it and that is so lively and vibrant. I’m very lucky because my job requires me to really get to know people in the city and to get to know the communities. I’m finding people incredibly welcoming. I do feel that the museums are beloved by most people. I’ve never had this experience where I go into the vet and the young woman says, “Oh, but I think you’re the Director of the Fine Arts Museum and we love your museum.” That is new to me. There’s a real embrace by the city.

HL: New Yorkers didn’t do that?
CB: It happened a little bit but quite frankly not as much. I’m touched just by the breadth of community that loves the museum and feels welcome there. They read the magazines and they sort of recognize you. I think people like to have a face or a person representing an institution and I’m privileged to do that.

HL: What area do you live in?
CB: I live in Pacific Heights. It’s a lovely area. We go down to Union (Street) or we go to Polk. I like the fact that I can walk as well as everything else. It would be harder to go from New York to somewhere where you were in the car absolutely all the time. I go to a couple of gyms, which I really like, and I love Roam, the burger place. I also like Capannina (in Marina/Cow Hollow). It’s consistent and delicious. I love Tosca—and I love it for many reasons but partly because it’s open after 10 o’clock at night! In this city you’re spoiled for food, obviously. I’m learning that you have to make a decision a few days beforehand about where you’re going, otherwise you’re not going to get a place.

HL: You can use your name. You’re huge here.
CB: No, no, no [laughing]. I use OpenTable.

HL: Where do you shop?
CB: I like Union Square. It’s fantastic–all the stores are down there. I had to buy a new tux and I got a Gucci tux that I love. The trousers were too long and they weren’t prepared in the right way. I needed it for the opening the next day. They sent people to my office to look at the trousers, to (repair) them, and they returned them that afternoon. I was very impressed. I mean, I was grateful, but I was very impressed.

HL: You were at the Burberry grand re-opening. Are you related to Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer and chief executive officer?
CB: Absolutely not. No, I’d love to meet him. I know who he is but we’re not related [laughing].

HL: What do you do for fun here?
CB: We really try and take the benefit of all that’s happening so we go to movies—the Kabuki. We have a subscription to the opera and the ballet. We go to A.C.T. We’ve been out to Berkeley Rep. You can’t beat the Lands End and going for walks around the Legion.

HL: Do you go down to Crissy Field?
CB: Oh, I have. When I moved here, I was staying not far from Crissy Field and I would run down there and run around when they had those fabulous Mark di Suevero sculptures down there. And it was so enjoyable. I do feel that you breathe a fresher air here.

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