Golden Oldies California prospectors beat a path northward in 1898 after gold was discovered on Alaska's Seward Peninsula; some, like Wilfred McDaniel, kept a record of their adventures. McDaniel and his brother Edmund left home for Nome, where they became gold miners, and Wilfred was evidently one of the few fortune hunters who brought along a camera, with which he documented his new life. McDaniel's photos will be shown with mining artifacts and tools, toys, weapons, and utensils from the McDaniel family collection in the archival exhibit "Alaska Gold: Life on the New Frontier," a slice of California history that also includes letters, diaries, and postcards describing McDaniel's voyage, his new neighbors, the abrupt climate change, and a miner's life. The exhibit opens at 11 a.m. at the California Historical Society Museum, 678 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is free-$3; call 357-1848. The Historical Society is one of 35 neighborhood galleries and museums opening their doors to the third annual Gardens Gallery Walk, which includes venues ranging in size and scope from the SFMOMA and the Jewish and Mexican museums to the recently bailed-out Cartoon Art Museum and the Center for Electronic Art. The walk happens from 2 to 9 p.m. today throughout the Yerba Buena Gardens neighborhood; call 541-0312 for more information, or pick up a map at any participating venue.
Cole Mining Popular shows draw crowds, but new productions of theatrical chestnuts will always be compared to older productions, and not always favorably. American Conservatory Theater ought to keep this in mind as they revive High Society. The well-loved musical, which features Cole Porter gems like "I Love Paris" and the sassy "Well Did You Evah," is based on Philip Barry's comedy The Philadelphia Story, in which spoiled but charming society girl Tracy Lord discovers true love the night before her wedding, after a drunken, wisecracking exchange with a tabloid journalist and an uninvited wedding guest. Katharine Hepburn played Lord on Broadway and in George Cukor's hit film of The Philadelphia Story, opposite Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, who won an Oscar for his role as the reporter. The 1956 film of High Society starred Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra. Fortunately, ACT can bank on the strength of the story and the score, and a solid cast including Broadway veteran Melissa Errico as Lord, in its production of High Society, which previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through Oct. 5) at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $11-51; call 749-2228.
It's All Good The warm, fuzzy feeling that comes of helping others just got warmer and fuzzier at a couple of local events. Professional makeup artist Francisco Zacarias will be doing wonders for outer beauty at the Body Shop's "Make a Difference With a Meaningful Makeover," while the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival, a benefit for meal-making and delivery service Project Open Hand, proffers all things, well, chocolate, including pastries, dipped fortune cookies, truffles, and mousse, along with activities like an ice cream sundae-eating contest. And the S.F. Giants will be kicking off their weekend games with a food drive for the San Francisco Food Bank. Makeovers are given today and Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Body Shop, 865 Market (at Fifth Street), S.F. Admission is a voluntary donation of $3 or more; call 929-5150. The Chocolate Festival begins at noon Saturday at Fountain and West plazas, Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $5; call 775-5500. The games begin at 1:05 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Candlestick Park, S.F. Admission is ticket price plus a donation of nonperishable food items; call 282-1900.
Post Haste Bigger isn't better in the case of "Post-Postcard II," a Four Walls invitational exhibit open to artists worldwide. Anything goes, thematically and technically, as long as the artist's work is small enough to fit into one of a series of identical boxes measuring 6 inches wide, 11 inches deep, and 4 1/2 inches high. Boxes will be installed along shelves lining the gallery walls, and will be priced no higher than $20 each, a boon to prospective collectors with limited means. Oddly enough, nobody did dioramas, but this year's show will include collages, paintings, production-run copies of postcards, and tiny objects like the threaded vellum from an artist in Idaho and the flat, silk-screened pieces from a Brazilian entrant. The show opens with a reception at 7 p.m. (and is up through Sept. 14) at Four Walls, 3160-A 16th St. (at Albion), S.F. Admission is free; call 626-8515.
Opera, Man Phantom of the Opera cast members, Opera Center Adler Fellows, San Francisco Ballet students, S.F. Gay Men's Chorus, Smuin Ballets/S.F., and Harry Denton's Starlight Orchestra are among the guests performing at the Opera Fair, but in case the afternoon sounds intimidatingly highbrow to some, organizers are also offering opera karaoke and macarena lessons (OK, and Phantom of the Opera, but let's not start). The fair, a celebration of the Opera House renovation and reopening, will feature tours of the building every 10 minutes at $1 a pop, and kids activities will be ongoing throughout the day. Plus local arts organizations will be setting up booths along the square, and musicians and greeters decked out in opera costumes will be roaming the periphery. The fair begins at 10 a.m. in the War Memorial Courtyard, Van Ness & Grove, S.F. Admission is free; call 861-4008. In a related note, the San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum offers "Great Moments at the Opera House," an exhibit of photos, reviews, programs, and recordings of highlights like the appearances of Gershwin, Stravinsky, and Ballets Russes. The exhibit is open through the end of the year at 399 Grove (at Gough), S.F. Admission is free; call 255-4800.