The David Ireland House at 500 Capp Street in San Francisco’s Mission District, established in 2016 to preserve the late conceptual artist’s former residence, announced that it is reopening after an eight-month hiatus. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, during the cultural site’s temporary closure, management completed an assessment of its operations, reduced the venue’s operating budget from $600,000 to $400,000, and decided to eliminate admission fees in an effort to make the historic house more accessible to the public.
“This exciting announcement follows an eight-month closure and intensive review,” said Cait Molloy, director of the David Ireland House and its only full-time employee. “We refined our mission, undertook important steps to rebuild our infrastructure, and completed necessary repairs to the house.” With this reopening, she added, “The David Ireland House is reaffirming its commitment to celebrate his legacy, make his home and collection more accessible to the community, and continue to incorporate the voices of innovative artists from San Francisco and beyond.”
Last year, the house, a beloved fixture in the Bay Area arts community, experienced a series of setbacks after it laid off its curator Bob Linder and announced that it would be taking its programming in a different direction. The move prompted artist Matt Connors to cancel his upcoming exhibition at the house. Not long after B. Wurtz also decided not to continue with his scheduled show, Liz Magor and Nina Canell withdrew their works from exhibitions that were on view at 500 Capp Street at the time, and the house’s other curator Diego Villalobos tendered his resignation.
While board chair Jock Reynolds, said that changes at the organization were the result of financial strain, the organization faced backlash after it released a statement saying that it intended to “re-balance” its future exhibitions and public programs. Many interpreted the statement as saying that management wanted to focus more on Ireland and scale back on it exhibitions by outside artists.
500 Capp Street founder and primary benefactor Carlie Wilmans, who purchased the house in 2008 for $895,000, also came under scrutiny last summer after she tried to evict an immigrant family from a building adjacent to the David Ireland House which she planned to turn into temporary housing for artists. The eviction was ultimately suspended.
Commenting on the recent changes, Wilmans told the Chronicle, “I feel very positive and enthusiastic about the direction we are going. We are continuing what I have always intended, which is to showcase David Ireland’s home as his masterpiece.”
The site will reopen on Saturday, March 7. Visitors to the home will be able to view a new installation of David Ireland’s assemblages from the late 1970s and early ’80s and an exhibition of works by Cuban-born artist Felipe Dulzaides. Titled “There is no such thing as a perfect circle,” the show will address subjects of circularity, cultural displacement, chance, dislocation, relocation, and the relationship between architecture and public spaces.