With the holidays approaching, my last Academy of Art University field trip of the semester was David Ireland’s residence at 500 Capp Street. Every inch of the residence reflects the artist’s life. The House redefines the idea of home.
According to 500 Capp Street Foundation: “Upon returning to San Francisco in the 1970s to settle down, Ireland purchased the dilapidated Italianate-style home and began implementing what he referred to as a 30-month ‘maintenance action’: removing window moldings, stripping wallpaper, sanding surfaces, and finally coating the walls, ceiling, and floors with high-gloss polyurethane varnish to preserve and highlight his modifications. His original intent was to clear out The House and use it as studio, but he soon grew to see the home in a sculptural way, perceiving his activity as an artistic endeavor more than a simple architectural renovation.
Ireland’s residence at 500 Capp Street in San Francisco’s Mission District is widely considered the centerpiece of his prolific career. During the three decades he lived in The House, he embedded it with art and slowly evolved it into a site-specific installation that’s now regarded as the inspiration, source of materials, and repository for some of his most important work of the 1980s and 1990s.”
Artist David Ireland is an iconic conceptual artist with deep ties to the San Francisco from a different era. Imagine a time when artists could purchase a home and repurposed it into a living art practice. For Ireland, the 1970’s provided this opportunity. Today, income disparity continues to restrict a new generation of creatives.
Every inch of The House oozes an unexpected and present artwork. Symbolic, repeated, and kinetic patterns emerge through suspended objects, varnished surfaces, cracked walls, and repurposed idols. The artist’s imagination becomes a detailed and researched oasis for visitors.
The 500 Capp Street Foundation provided an incredible and informative tour for my class. Without it, details would have been lost. The House deserves another visit for all. Education is the best gift for the New Year!
David Ireland: “So much of what I do is living my life, and art simply occurs in the process.”