The Brief, Largely Subterranean History of the Reese Palley Gallery, San Francisco, 1969–1972
Organized with Constance Lewallen
February 29–September 12, 2020

Opening reception: Saturday, February 29, 3–5pm
Paul Kos and Tom Marioni in conversation with Constance Lewallen, 4pm

In 1969, an Atlantic City-born entrepreneur, adventurer, nuclear power expert, global warming crusader, Torah smuggler, and art dealer named Reese Palley leased Frank Lloyd Wright’s only San Francisco building to sell elaborate porcelain birds. While specimens flew from the upstairs showroom, Carol Lindsley, a young curator, was given free rein in the basement, where she orchestrated an extraordinarily adventurous program of exhibitions and actions by the new Bay Area vanguard. In just three years, Lindsley presented groundbreaking works by artists who now hold a significant place in the development of conceptualism, including Bruce Nauman, Stephen Kaltenbach, Terry Fox, Howard Fried, Paul Kos, Tom Marioni, and many more.

Cushion Works presents a chronological and archival history of the San Francisco gallery through announcements, documentation, press clippings, related ephemera, and a selection of moving-image and wall-based artworks. This is the first time Reese Palley Gallery history has been reconstructed and shared.

Constance Lewallen served as Matrix curator at the University of California Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive from 1980 to 1988, where she organized over 75 contemporary art exhibitions. As Senior Curator from 1998 to 2007, she curated several internationally touring shows, including Joe Brainard, A Retrospective, 2001; Dream of the Audience: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-1982), 2001; and A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s, 2007. State of Mind: New California Art ca. 1970, 2011, co-curated with Karen Moss, was part of Pacific Standard Time and toured to six museums across the country and in Canada. Her current exhibition, Stephen Kaltenbach: The Beginning and the End, co-curated with Ted Mann, is currently on view at the Manetti Shrem Museum at UC Davis.

Nothing To Sell: On Reese Palley Gallery, a related essay by Connie Lewallen & Jordan Stein, was commissioned by Open Space, SFMOMA’s online and live interdisciplinary platform.

Checklist & Information
Archival Elements

Special thanks to Cole Solinger, Carol Lindsley, David Senior, and Barney Bailey.
Photography by John Wilson White.