David Ireland, the San Francisco conceptual artist, began his most enduring work—the house at 500 Capp St.—after he received a notice from the city ordering him to repair the sidewalk.

Front window at 500 Capp St.

I often walk by the Ireland house at Capp and 20th streets on my way to Mission Loc@l’s office and last week saw the notice below.  I wonder if Ireland, who died last summer, watched from somewhere above and smiled. Time for art, but this time someone else will have to make it.

SF MOMA held a memorial for the artist in September and  has  has a photograph of Ireland working on the sidewalk.

The site also has some wonderful photographs of the inside of the Capp Street house and Ireland’s other work.

I also noticed that Ireland, who purchased the house from an accordion maker, left the former owner’s business sign.  Over the years, it has worn away, but can still be made out.

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I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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