500 Capp Street, by Constance M. Lewallan
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.
The Art of David Ireland: The Way Things Are, by Karen Tsujimoto, Jennifer Gross
Widely recognized as one of the West Coast’s most important and critically acclaimed practitioners of conceptual and installation art, David Ireland (born 1930) has taken the concept of art itself as one of his subjects. A self-described “post-discipline” artist, guided by Zen thought and postmodern aesthetics, Ireland moves fluidly from making small drawings to creating sculptures as large as houses. Freely incorporating anything within his conceptual or physical reach—dirt, concrete, wire, and other everyday materials—his work is subtle, puzzling, and witty, and consistently challenges traditional definitions of art.
In this book accompanying the first full-scale retrospective of Ireland’s work, curator and author Karen Tsujimoto provides an insightful overview of more than thirty years of the artist’s accomplishments, from his drawings, sculptures, and site-specific installations to his remarkable series of architectural transformations, including his well-known house at 500 Capp Street in San Francisco. Chronicling Ireland’s circuitous route to his calling, Tsujimoto explores how key life experiences have influenced his artistic perspective—from his early art-student days, through his years as an African importer and safari guide, to his long-standing interest in Eastern, and particularly Zen, philosophy and his deep connections with the San Francisco Bay Area conceptual art community. An illuminating essay by art historian and curator Jennifer R. Gross also considers Ireland’s art in terms of historical materialism—assessing his use of neglected materials and artifacts as a process of cultural preservation.