Public Events

Francis Cape: Utopian Benches
Tuesday, January 21 - Saturday, March 15, 2014
Walter and McBean Galleries
San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco,


Thursday, March 13
6–9 pm » Closing Reception | 7:30 pm » Film Screening

Join SFAI and the Walter and McBean Galleries in celebrating the closing of Francis Cape: Utopian Benches, including a special outdoor screening of the legendary underground rock film Rock My Religion by artist Dan Graham.

Sip on local craft brews provided by Fort Point Beer Co., and wine from the Thomas Fogarty Winery.

Eventbrite - SFAI Utopian Benches Closing Reception + Screening » Rock My Religion


Francis Cape’s Utopian Benches is an installation of 17 poplar benches arranged in rows that together fill the gallery. Each bench was precisely replicated from existing benches crafted by American communal societies. Their form and design closely reflect their use within the specific community, and by extension their organizational structure and collective values. Of this work, Cape has asserted, “material culture reflects social structure.” The benches are shown alongside Cape’s suite of drawings that serve both as archival renderings and construction documents.

Utopian Benches recognizes these reductive, proto-modern seats as cultural equalizers and essential components in the creation of nonhierarchical spaces for conversation and communion, be it religious, political, or otherwise. Their arrangement creates an egalitarian field that levels proscenium divisions; here there is no stage or audience—we sit together.

The exhibition is accompanied by We Sit Together: Utopian Benches from the Shakers to the Seperatists of Zoar, published by Princeton Architectural Press.

Utopian Benches is loaned from the collection of Nion T. McEvoy. Special thanks to Murray Guy, New York.


Francis Cape, Utopian Benches, 2011–2012
Installed at Arcadia University Art Gallery, Glenside, Pennsylvania
Poplar, 17 benches; Dimensions variable
Courtesy of Greenhouse Media
Collection of Nion T. McEvoy, San Francisco