Archival Update

At 500 Capp Street, we preserve all facets of David Ireland’s legacy, even the problematic aspects of his past. We acknowledge that the objects displayed in Ireland’s dining room, including the taxidermied animals and cultural artifacts acquired during  his time as a safari  guide in East Africa, tie him to extractive colonial histories and practices rooted in imperial fascination and exploitation. We also acknowledge how the objects have made the space uncomfortable for the museum’s staff, visitors, and collaborating artists. 

Under our current leadership, we choose to address these issues head on rather than gloss over or hide this layer of Ireland’s life from public view. Through meaningful programming  we will explore how these troublesome histories still resonate in our lives today. In collaboration with our team, researchers, and scholars, we will be hosting a series of programming that asks: how does colonization and the exploitation of people and resources shape the trail of object collection? And, what steps can we take to actively decolonize the root of exhibition-making within a museum context? We look forward to your continued support as we begin sharing this important work-in-progress with you over the coming year.

Photo by Henrik Kam

Ann Hamilton at 500 Capp Street

Process + Place: Ann Hamilton

here there then now

February 11 – April 29, 2023

Opening Reception: February 11, 2023, Saturday 12-5pm


On the occasion of Headlands Center for the Arts’ 40th anniversary in 2022, Headlands joins 500 Capp Street for a project created by Ann Hamilton sited in both locations that highlights the deep connection between the two spaces and their shared stories of material and discovery.

At Headlands, artists David Ireland, Mark Thompson, and a team of collaborators transformed and opened the cluster of former military buildings to artists in 1986, creating an architectural condition that amplified and extended the vocabularies Ireland developed in his ongoing living project on Capp Street. Within this framework, Hamilton responded to these conditions in her 1989-1991 renovation of Headlands’ Mess Hall, transforming the space into a comfortable and inviting gathering place where meals are shared, collaborations are inspired, and creative revelations arise. Also in 1989, Hamilton was in residence at Capp Street Project with an installation entitled Privations and Excesses.

Now, Hamilton returns to both sites for here •  there • then • now, reaching across time and place to form an engagement, reflection, and response. During a research residency at 500 Capp Street in November 2022, Hamilton selected objects  from Ireland’s practice, exploring the typology of their forms and materiality, and scanned each to create luminous images that will be on display along with a newspaper print that will be available as a free, take home memento.

Further connecting the domestic scale of 500 Capp Street with the institutional scale of Headlands’ studio buildings, Hamilton is developing a sculptural audio element that will call across the distance to connect the near at hand with the far away—a pulse, connection, collaboration reaching across time, then and now.  

Process + Place : Ann Hamilton, here •  there • then • now, will have satellite installation at the Headlands Center for the Arts on view from February 12 to March 19, 2023, at Building 944, 944 Simmonds Road, Sausalito, CA 94965.

More information on Headlands Center for the Arts Anniversary, Process + Place: Headlands at 40 here.

About Ann Hamilton

Ann Hamilton is a visual artist internationally acclaimed for her large-scale multimedia installations, public projects, and performance collaborations. Her site-responsive process works with common materials to invoke particular places, collective voices, and communities of labor. Noted for a dense accumulation of materials, her ephemeral environments create immersive experiences that poetically respond to the architectural presence and social history of their sites. Whether inhabiting a building four stories high or confined to the surface of a thimble, the genesis of Hamilton’s art extends outwards from the primary projections of the hand and mouth. Her attention to the uttering of a sound or the shaping of a word with the hand places language and text at the tactile and metaphoric center of her installations. To enter their liminality is to be drawn equally into the sensory and linguistic capacities of comprehension that construct our faculties of memory, reason and imagination.

In a time when successive generations of technology amplify human presence at distances far greater than the reach of the hand, what becomes the place and form of making at the scale and pace of the individual body? How does making participate in the recuperation and recognition of embodied knowledge? What are the places and forms for live, tactile, visceral, face-to-face experiences in a media saturated world? These concerns have animated the site responsive installations that have formed the bulk of Hamilton’s practice over the last 20 years. But where the relations of cloth, sound, touch, motion and human gesture once gave way to dense materiality, Hamilton’s work now focuses on the less material acts of reading, speaking and listening. The influence of collaborative processes in ever more complex architectures has shifted her forms of making, wherein the movement of the viewer in time and in space now becomes a central figure of the work.

Artists in Conversation: Amy Berk and Georgia Horgan.

The week starting March 28th saw the inaugural Spring Break Intensive for youth aged 13-18 at the David Ireland House. In this interview, participating artist Georgia Horgan talks to SFAI City Studio Director Amy Berk about why 500 Capp Street is such a rich resource for youth and artists alike.

Amy Berk pictured here with teens in the dining room of the house. Image courtesy of Christian Casillas.

Georgia Horgan: From your perspective as an educator, why do a program aimed at teenagers at the David Ireland House?

Amy Berk: Thank you for that question Georgia!

GH: It’s big isn’t it…

AB: It is a big question, but it’s one I feel really passionate about. When I walked into that house for the first time I thought it was magical; it offers a counterpoint to the rigidity that many teens and tweens experience at school or in day-to-day life. They often exist in environments where there is a right answer or a wrong answer. There’s no answer in the house. It’s extraordinary in its ordinariness and that’s why it offers a portal to really think about what art can be.

GH: And I think this offers a path to question everything, right?

AB: Absolutely. It opens up a path to criticality in general, giving them the tools to question the status quo. It’s not necessarily about art-making, it’s about thinking differently. And that’s my whole ethos with City Studio. I’m not out to make artists. I want thinkers.

GH: I completely agree. My own practice is based on how we know things, how we learn, the methods through which this is achieved, and how, in turn, this impacts society. Art offers new approaches to these questions; from its very foundation in language to how we interpret popular culture or apply teaching methods. I think the house is an amazing resource to prompt these questions. This leads me to ask: why do you think David Ireland offers this gateway versus any of his contemporaries in the Conceptual art movement?

AB: I think it’s the house itself. It’s a really intimate space, a space that everyone can connect to. Everybody has a home, or we hope so, at least. This extraordinary ordinariness makes the house very approachable. A lot of Conceptual art is pretty austere whereas, David Ireland’s work has a warmth. Even literally speaking, the golden color of the walls has warmth in a way that embraces you rather than pushes you away. There is often something tomb-like about the environment other Conceptual practices are shown in; the David Ireland House is almost womb-like.

GH: Right! I think that’s a really interesting observation. Many of the artworks from this era are presented in institutional settings on epic scales. They’re edifices, whereas the domesticity of David Ireland is part of what makes his work so approachable. I think this is the case from multiple perspectives. From my own observation of youth education projects, there tends to be a bit of a pervasive attitude that only certain types of art practice lend themselves to education programs. I think we’ve established that David Ireland’s practice indeed does, but it’s so multilayered that there are many ways to enter the work. I think this creates a nice opportunity for artists that maybe aren’t such obvious choices for youth projects to come in and do something, using David Ireland’s work as a lens.

AB: I love that! And I know that the David Ireland team has worked really hard to facilitate that. David Ireland is very multifaceted, so you can access his work in a lot of different ways, be it through different media, perspectives, or capacities. It’s a challenge for artists and educators to create workshops that represent their work and David Ireland’s, kind of honoring him rather than copying him. I think that’s when teens can see that they’re being given the agency to form their own interpretations, as opposed to being told what’s right or wrong.

GH: Right, and ultimately, I think this further exposes them to different ways of making art, to different ways of thinking, encouraging this criticality that we already identified as key. 

AB: Exactly. It’s empowering them to think differently.

GH: Before we wrap up, anything else you’d like to add?

AB: Yes – it was really great to see institutional support, not just from the David Ireland House, but from the new partner Park and Rec. It’s a pretty out-there collaboration from a city department, so it’s amazing to have them on board. It bodes well for the future of San Francisco, at least in regards to art education.

Image courtesy of Stephanie Dolores Rose

Amy Berk is an artist and educator based in San Francisco. She is the Director of City Studio, SFAI’s program to engage underserved youth in their own neighborhoods through art classes that are both rigorous and joyous.

Georgia Horgan is a British artist based in Mexico City. She makes videos, textiles, and texts that explore feminist methods of writing history.

Domestic Affairs: Protocols For Living Together

On May 18th, 2022, join us for a conversation on the protocols used to organize and catalyze collective living projects. Protocols encapsulate the often invisible forces that underlie collective living projects—from land acquisition and tenure models, to economics and resource allocation—these protocols form the critical foundations for commoning practices. During this conversation, voices from residents in collective living communities will be joined by Zarinah Agnew from District Commons, Sunny Angulo from the City of San Francisco, Saki Bailey from the San Francisco Community Land Trust, and Kate Conner from San Francisco Planning. This event is supported by the CCA Architecture Division and organized by The Urban Works Agency, and is presented in association with the House of Commons exhibition at The David Ireland House that is on view through May 31. 

Please note that this event will be taking place outside on the terrace. Doors open at 6pm, program begins at 6:30pm. 

HOME(in)STEAD: A New site-specific dance performance by artists-in-residence, Megan Lowe and Johnny Huy Nguyen

Bay Area dancers Megan Lowe and Johnny Huy Nguyen investigate the meaning of home in a new, site-specific performance work developed during the duo’s 16-week residency at The David Ireland House. HOME(in)STEAD, an hour-long dance experience for intimate audiences of just 10 per performance, moves from front door to salon, utilizing the entirety of late conceptual artist David Ireland’s unique historic house turned work of art to explore themes of home and the intersection of dance, sculpture, and performance. The piece features original music by cellist Peekaboo and lighting by Rico Duenas.

June 24 & 25, 2022: 5pm & 8pm (SOLD OUT)

June 26, 2022: 4pm & 7pm (SOLD OUT)


July 1 & 2, 2022: 5pm & 8pm (SOLD OUT)

July 3, 2022: 4pm & 7pm (SOLD OUT)

Tickets: $20-150
Available on a first-come, first serve basis. No one turned away from lack of funds.

The residency marks a developing collaboration for Lowe and Nguyen, who are building a dance together in co-collaboration for the first time. The two artists share a deep interest in immersive, sculptural, site-specific work, bringing their own strengths to the partnership—Lowe as a specialist in contact improvisation, aerial, and site-specific dance, and Nguyen with a multifaceted movement practice that includes breaking and other street dance forms.

Lowe and Nguyen were inspired by The David Ireland House’s residency open call in early 2022 to investigate and heal the concept of home together. “In our lived experiences, both of us have had complicated relationships with home. In interacting with the physicality of The David Ireland House through place-based movement interactions and contact partnering, we hoped to unlock new possibilities within the architecture to inspire embodied reflections on home and how we can define it for ourselves as an expansive space for healing, freedom, and connection,” they wrote.

Collaborative residency partner Minnesota Street Project will host a further performance program by the resident artists in summer 2022.

Lowe and Nguyen were selected from more than 60 applications. Jurors for the selection process included Aay Preston-Myint, Program Manager at Headlands Center for the Arts; Julie E. Phelps, Artistic & Executive Director of CounterPulse; and María Elena González, Sculpture and Ceramic Department Chair at the San Francisco Art Institute. 

About the Artists

Megan Lowe is a fierce female dancer, choreographer, performer, singer-songwriter, filmmaker, teacher, and administrator of Chinese and Irish descent, creating dance art in the SF Bay Area on unceded Ramaytush Ohlone Territory. With an affinity for dynamic places and partners, her creations through Megan Lowe Dances tackle unusual physical situations and invent compelling solutions, opening up the imagination to what is possible. Megan has performed with Flyaway Productions, Lenora Lee Dance, Dance Brigade, Scott Wells & Dancers, Lizz Roman & Dancers, Epiphany Productions, and more. She teaches for Joe Goode Performance Group, Bandaloop, Flyaway, for contact improvisation gatherings, and for her alma mater Theater, Dance, & Performance Studies at UC Berkeley, where she currently works as the Office Manager. Megan’s artistic process thrives off of collaboration, prioritizing creating relationships of respect, generosity, and gratitude. This culture of magnanimity is infused in the dance classes Megan teaches all over the Bay Area, for organizations, schools, universities, and dance festivals, serving movers of all different ages, experience levels, body types, races, cultures, and socio-economic status—building community, connection, and understanding.

Johnny Huy Nguyen is a second generation Vietnamese American multidisciplinary somatic artist based in Yelamu (a.k.a San Francisco) and son of courageous refugees. Fluent in multiple movement modalities including myriad street dance styles, contemporary, modern, and martial arts, Nguyen weaves together dance, theater, spoken word, ritual, installation, and performance art to create immersive, time-based works that recognize the body’s power as a place of knowing, site of resistance, gateway to healing, and crucible of imagination. In addition to his work as an individual artist, he has appeared in the works of Lenora Lee Dance Company, KULARTS, Embodiment Project, the Global Street Dance Masquerade, and James Graham Dance Theater and has performed in the Bay Area, Oregon, Boston, and New York City. His individual work has been presented at the Asian Art Museum, the Chinese Historical Society of America, APATure, and SOMArts. His most recent full-length work, Minority Without A Model, premiered in 2021 as part of the 24th United States of Asian America Festival.

Peekaboo (they/them) is an experimental cellist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and youth educator situated on Ramaytush Ohlone land (SF). Their compositions are rooted in honoring the essence and spirit of past, present, and future Queer ancestors, prioritizing sonic exploration practices towards the decolonizination of Euro-centric structures embedded in youth and adult music education and performance. Through multiple collaborations with QTBIPOC2S Bay Area-based performers, they continue to work in togetherness, sonically activating bodily vibrations, readying the move towards non-binary Queer liberation, strengthening connections between Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Filipinx ancestry, and celebrating freedom of expression, rest, and breath.

Rico Duenas was born and raised in San Francisco. As a child, he spent time on the east coast with his grandfather, a sculptor and founding member of Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. In San Francisco, he also often accompanied his father to flea markets and garage sales, where his father bought, fixed, and re-sold furniture. It was there that he was introduced to artist Kevin Randolph, who was repurposing lights, and quickly developed a love of lighting and sculpture. He lives and works in San Francisco as a union electrician and artist.

HOME(in)STEAD is generously sponsored by John Sanger.

Image by Henrik Kam

Five Scores by David Ireland realized by Chris Brown and Johanna Poethig

Friday, July 29 and Saturday, July 30, 2022

Tickets are on a sliding scale basis starting at $20

No one turned away due to lack of funds, please contact


Doors open at 6:30pm. Performance starts at 7pm. Duration 1 hr 15 min

Design by Dongyoung Lee

Please join us for an experimental sound performance by Chris Brown and Johanna Poethig. They will be performing A Variation on 79, Side to Side Passes of a Dumbball, Dedicated to the Memory of John Cage (1912-1992).Their realization of the piece applies processes that Ireland used in creating his scores to activate the acoustics of the House using live sampling of sounds from the House mixed with electronic tones.

CHRIS BROWN, composer, pianist, and electronic musician, makes music with self-designed sonic systems that include acoustic and electroacoustic instruments, interactive software, computer networks, microtonal tunings, and improvisation. His compositions are designs for performances in which people bring to life musical structures embedded in scores, instruments, and machines. His music is available on New World, Tzadik, F’oc’sle, and ArtifactRecordings. From 1990-2018, he taught at Mills College in Oakland as Professor of Music and Co-Director of the Center for Contemporary Music.

JOHANNA POETHIG is a visual, public artist and performance artist who creates public art works, murals, paintings, sculpture, and multimedia installations. She is a 2022 recipient of the California Arts Council Individual Artist Legacy Award. Her work plays between realism and abstract forms, architectural and intimate scales, historic and present day events, collaborative processes, and scientific research. She has exhibited internationally and has been commissioned to create public art projects throughout California and in Chicago, Milwaukee, Washington State, New York State, Cuba, and Tbilisi, Georgia. Poethig is a Professor Emeritus at CSU Monterey Bay Visual and Public Art Department.