Words from our Interim Executive Director, Jennifer Rissler

Jennifer Rissler at 500 Capp Street, photo by Geloy Concepcion
Dear 500 Capp Street community,

I am thrilled to write to you as the interim executive director of 500 Capp Street, a role I assumed only last week, but one that feels familiar already. Many of you most likely know me as the former Dean of Academic Affairs of the now shuttered San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). An experiment like no other, SFAI will be recognized in perpetuity as an institution dedicated to advancing art and its critique as a significant form of knowledge making throughout its 151-year history. With its closure, the precarity of Bay Area conceptualism would seemingly loom large. Yet that is precisely where I see 500 Capp Street evolving—as a space taking up the mantle to advance conceptual art practices of site specific and archival interventions, performances, and process-based works in the Bay Area.  

500 Capp Street is poised for growth and is achieving this through several impact initiatives led by a small but dedicated group of staff members, including Curator of Exhibitions and Programs Lian Ladia. This year we will advance our slate of programs including:

An international artist residency program; 
Our second annual benefit and auction; 
An exhibition of David Ireland’s work that concurrently honors the legacy of his long time gallerist Paule Anglim; 
Two archive fellowships; 
The premiere of the dance film, HOME(in)STEAD, featuring Megan Lowe and Johnny Nguyen supported by APICC and CAAMFest; 
A solo project by Marcel Pardo Ariza; and 
A salon series with Viêt Lê. 

I am pleased to share that 500 Capp Street is a recent recipient of several grants that make these programs possible, including from the Henry Luce Foundation; Teiger Foundation; Kenneth Rainin Foundation; Zellerbach Family Foundation; Sanger Family Foundation; Berger Family Foundation; and through the generous patronage of many of you.

In a very short period of time, I am inspired by the people with whom I work and want to take a moment to acknowledge their tireless efforts and commitment to our mission, which are the driving force behind our past and future successes. I am immensely grateful for their determination and commitment to advancing David Ireland’s legacy.
Speaking of legacy, I am reminded by poet John Ashbery, who writes in 500 Capp Street: David Ireland’s House, a 2015 book co-authored with Constance M. Lewallen,  that what is conjured up within the house is “a strong sense of the past – the light of a specific Tuesday afternoon in San Francisco 80 years ago.” It is this past that I and the staff at 500 Capp Street will carry through into the contemporary moment, by introducing our audiences to a new generation of conceptual artists, as a way to both honor the past and engage the current. 

I had the privilege of knowing David and experiencing his life long work together with him inside 500 Capp Street. His work, a palimpsest, offers a methodology for being both forward looking while honoring his legacy, through effacement and reinscription, making room for the new while still bearing visible traces of an earlier form. David would no doubt want you to return to the house over and over, to (re)discover those traces by becoming an active participant within his social sculpture. 

I invite you to join me and our artist guides on Saturday afternoon drop-in tours or Fridays by appointment. The core of 500 Capp Street relies on the unique experience brought to you through intimate tours with an artist guide. Most of these guides are students and also emerging or mid-career artists and scholars. With in-depth knowledge of 500 Capp Street’s archives, collection, and current exhibitions, they provide unique and intimate access to the house. Follow this link to plan your visit: https://500cappstreet.org/planyourvisit/ and, as a reminder, the current Ann Hamilton and Sherwin Rio exhibits will end on April 29.

We rely on our community of supporters to fulfill and advance the mission of 500 Capp Street. I thank those of you who have given support previously and I welcome those of you who are new to the organization as we build capacity and sustainability for the future. Your contributions enable us to share meaningful and thought-provoking experiences with our community. To donate to our programs, follow this link: https://www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/MTcyNTE4

I am honored to step into the role of interim executive director and look forward to advancing a space for artistic expression and cultural exchange. No amount is too large or small to sustain 500 Capp Street as a portal to what’s possible and imaginable.

My best regards,
Jennifer Rissler, Ph.D.Interim Executive Directorjennifer@500cappstreet.org