500 Capp Street tells the story of David Ireland’s house, a rundown Victorian in the Mission District of San Francisco that the artist transformed into an environmental artwork, taking the detritus of his restoration labors as well as objects left behind by previous owners and refashioning them into sculptures. Constance M. Lewallen begins by recounting the history of the house from 1886, when it was built, until Ireland acquired it in 1975. She then details Ireland’s renovation and continuing engagement with the site that served simultaneously as his residence, studio, and evolving artwork; the house’s influence on his own work and that of artists who followed him; and its relationship to other house museums. An introduction by Jock Reynolds, who was close to the artist for many years, chronicles the social scene that developed around 500 Capp Street in the 1980s. The book also includes a 1983 article on the house by renowned poet John Ashbery. Illustrated with a generous selection of photographs taken over the years by the artist and his many visitors, this is an invaluable and intimate record of Ireland’s best-known work. 500 Capp Street is essential reading for anyone interested in the artistic and cultural history of the San Francisco Bay Area and the California conceptual art movement.
Constance M. Lewallen is Adjunct Curator at University of California Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. As Senior Curator at BAM/PFA from 1999 through 2007, she organized many major exhibitions that toured nationally and internationally, including The Dream of the Audience: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951–1982); Everything Matters: Paul Kos, a Retrospective; Ant Farm, 1968–1978 (with cocurator Steve Seid); A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s; and State of Mind: New California Art circa 1970 (with cocurator Karen Moss).
"Constance Lewallen has created a detailed, generously illustrated guide to this 'cabinet of wonders' . . . a valuable accompaniment to visiting Ireland’s house at 500 Capp Street."—Sally B. Woodbridge SFAQ
“[David Ireland was] a conceptual artist whose quiet embrace of life-as-art made him a beloved guru in the Bay Area and a highly admired freethinker in international art circles.”
—Suzanne Muchnic, Los Angeles Times
"Ireland, who died in 2009 at age 78, was a Bay Area pioneer. His large pieces are in the collections of modern art museums from San Francisco to New York. But his most ambitious creation was his two-story home/open studio/sculpture in progress at the southwest corner of Capp and 20th streets, in the Mission."
—Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle