Press Releases


David Ireland

SAN FRANCISCO ART INSTITUTE PRESENTS An Exhibition by SFAI Alumnus and Celebrated San Francisco Conceptual Artist David Ireland Includes recreations of famed work from Ireland’s 1987 show at SFAI, coincides with the re-opening of the David Ireland House at 500 Capp Street in the Mission District. On view January 14–March 26, 2016.

San Francisco (January 5, 2015)San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) presents an exhibition of works by the late alumnus and celebrated conceptual artist David Ireland, January 14 to March 26, 2016 in the Walter and McBean Galleries. The SFAI show coincides with the public reopening of the late artist’s most famous works—his residence and environmental installation at 500 Capp Street.

The exhibition features a reenactment of Smithsonian Falls, Descending a Staircase for P.K., that Ireland first created for the Walter and McBean Galleries in 1987—a cascade of concrete poured down the gallery’s central staircase. Also featured is his tour-de-force, Angel-Go-Round (1996), a work comprised of a fiberglass angel that continuously soars above a pile of concrete garden statuary, of which Ireland said, “I love the idea of taking this dreadful stuff into a prestigious environment. Context is everything. I hope they [the audience] see the statuary as abstract forms. I like to think I am giving them new life.” The exhibition also includes paintings, prints, sculptures, and assemblages that showcase the diversity of his wide-ranging practice.

“David Ireland’s approach to the world and art was wide-eyed and infectious. The joys of his artistic practice were fully synced with his joys of life. For those who knew him, or experienced an epic dinner with him, the experience granted understanding of the many ways art could dissolve into life,” says SFAI Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs Hesse McGraw.

According to Constance M. Lewallen, “Everything Ireland did—from his early days as a safari leader in Africa to the renovation (he preferred the term “stabilization”) of his house on Capp Street—was a form of exploration.”

SFAI GALLERY HOURS | 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco
Tuesday, 11am–7pm; Wednesday–Saturday, 11am–6pm 

Friday, January 22, 68pm Walter and McBean Galleries, 800 Chestnut Street 
Free and Open to All | RSVP online at 

Join SFAI to celebrate the opening of David Ireland. Admission is free. RSVP online at

David Ireland (MFA 1974) is recognized internationally for a diverse and prolific body of work concerned with the beauty inherent in everyday things and the making of art as a part of daily life. His home at 500 Capp Street served as his primary source for material and inspiration, and is widely considered his greatest masterpiece. Ireland (1930-2009) was born in Bellingham, WA and moved to San Francisco in 1965. His work has been presented in more than 40 solo exhibitions, at venues including the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; The Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. He created major public projects and private commissions in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and other cities. His work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Oakland Museum of California, and University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, among others.

David Ireland is organized by San Francisco Art Institute and curated by Constance M. Lewallen and Hesse McGraw, SFAI Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs. The curators wish to thank those who generously lent artworks to this exhibition: 500 Capp Street Foundation, Anglim-Gilbert Gallery, di Rosa, Don and Doris Fisher, Ann Hatch, and John Sanger.

Douglas Dunn: You can't make art by making art
Friday, January 29, 7pm
SFAI Lecture Hall, 800 Chestnut Street
Free and Open to All | RSVP online at

Renowned choreographer Douglas Dunn’s collaborations with David Ireland captured a generosity of spirit in art-making and mutual respect and trust for one another’s work. Ireland and Dunn worked together on several evening length pieces starting in 1986, many of which were presented internationally. In her 2004 book Touching Time and Space: A Portrait Of David Ireland, Betty Klausner wrote of the Ireland/Dunn collaboration: “Two artists from different disciplines, though sharing common ideas and attitudes, seem to have the best chance for a sympathetic collaboration….[T]hey totally trusted and encouraged each other.”

San Francisco Art Institute’s Exhibitions and Public Programs provide direct access to artists and ideas that advance our culture. The Walter and McBean Galleries, established in 1969, present exhibitions at the forefront of contemporary art practice. The galleries serve as a laboratory for innovative and adventurous projects and commission new work from emerging and established artists.

San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), founded in 1871, is one of the country's oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in the practice and study of contemporary art. As a diverse community of working artists and scholars, SFAI provides students with a rigorous education in the arts and preparation for a life in the arts through an immersive studio environment, an integrated liberal arts and art history curriculum, and critical engagement with the world. Committed to educating artists who will shape the future of art, culture, and society, SFAI fosters creativity and original thinking in an open, experimental, and interdisciplinary context.

David Ireland’s House
January 15 through March 19, 2016
Presented by the 500 Capp Street Foundation
On view at the David Ireland House, 500 Capp Street, San Francisco
Free admission; advance reservations required | book online at

Artist David Ireland is best known for his century-old Italianate-style home at 500 Capp Street in San Francisco’s Mission District, which he installed with his own site-specific pieces and transformed into an immersive work and social environment that presaged many contemporary artist-created living spaces. After a complex two-year preservation effort, the David Ireland House will open its doors to the public on January 15 for a weekend celebrating the city’s first historic artist’s home. The inaugural exhibition, David Ireland’s House, introduces the artist’s most iconic sculptures, drawings, and artist-designed furniture—some on view for the first time—along with ephemera, photographs, and other objects from the 500 Capp Street Foundation’s 3,000-piece collection. For more information and related opening events, visit