Liz Sullivan with her Yorkshire terrier, Teddy, in front of a James Turrell piece— part of the artist’s Wide Glass series—at Pace Gallery.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the thriving art scene in the Bay Area, and Silicon Valley is certainly part of that conversation: This year, in the span of just three months, two Pace Gallery spaces debuted. A driving force behind both efforts was Liz Sullivan, a director for the New York-based blue-chip contemporary art gallery. The Long Island native, who now calls Menlo Park home, earned a master’s in education from Bard College before landing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then Sotheby’s. Since joining Pace 17 years ago as an assistant to its president, Marc Glimcher, she has developed her skills as a gallerist—representing artists and promoting their work, as well as engaging and educating people.
Sullivan’s passion for art is palpable, whether she’s discussing 16th to 18th century French drawings, or Pace’s current exhibitions: Japanese collective teamLab’s interactive Living Digital Space and Future Parks at Pace Art + Technology in Menlo Park, and artist James Turrell’s installations that inaugurated Pace Gallery in Palo Alto. (The former requires tickets, while the latter is free and operates like a traditional gallery, with all art on view available for purchase.)
For the Turrell opening reception in April, which the public was invited to attend, a long line quickly formed. “I expected a good crowd, but I didn’t expect that,” says Sullivan. “It made us so happy because it meant that there are people here who embrace [art] as much as we do, and we want to bring as much as we can.” During the reception, three of Turrell’s holograms were snapped up. The teamLab show has also exceeded expectations: Pace hoped to sell 30,000 tickets for its originally planned five-month stretch; after three months, more than 52,000 had been sold. (Turrell closed July 30, while teamLab has been extended through Dec. 18.)
Pace’s corner spot in Palo Alto features a light-filled entry with stained-glass panels that are original to the 1920s building and window seats that beckon visitors. They can even borrow a book from the back; there are about 1,000 volumes from which to choose. “We want to engage people—to have them come in, hang out, discuss,” says Sullivan. “We just want to be welcoming.”
Pace Art + Technology is open Tue.–Sun., 11 a.m.–7 p.m., tickets $10–$20. 300 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. Pace Gallery is open Tue.–Sat., 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Pace Gallery, 229 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto, 650.462.1368
Originally published in the July issue of Silicon Valley