The dining hall of David Ireland’s former house at 20th and Mission Streets. Photo by Chuqin Jiang.
The dining hall of David Ireland’s former house at 20th and Mission Streets. Photo by Chuqin Jiang.

David Ireland House at 500 Capp St., is hosting a new exhibit, “here •  there • then • now,” by visual artist Ann Hamilton. It’s to honor the 40th anniversary of the Headlands Center for the Arts, an organization founded by Ireland and other artists.

The exhibit opened last week, and will be on display every Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. until the end of April. Guided tours can be reserved at 2 and 4 p.m. every Friday, too.

Hamilton is known for her large-scale multimedia installations, public projects and performance collaborations. She lived at 500 Capp St. in November of last year to take a closer look at Ireland’s archive. During her research residency, she selected objects from Ireland’s practice and scanned each to create luminous images. 

David Ireland was a conceptual artist who made 500 Capp St., which he bought in 1975, into an art project. After his death, the house was made into a museum of his work. 

The objects David Ireland referred to as “Torpedoes,” “Untitled Identified Objects,” “Potatoes,” or “Turd” by Ireland. Photo by Chuqin Jiang.

One of Ireland’s archived works, “Torpedo,” was handmade with concrete, dirt, newspaper, cheesecloth, screws, and wire. In the shape of loaves and potatoes, the objects are considered to pose the question of value, and emphasize Ireland’s spirit of experimentation.

Hamilton became intrigued by these forms and scanned the objects with different light. Then she printed those scanned images on large paper, a way to invite the viewer to feel the quality of the objects.

In the garage, people can see the original “Torpedo,” which Ireland referred to by many other names, as well as several large prints of Hamilton’s scanned image. She also made a newspaper print copy that will be available as a free, take-home memento, by which she wanted the art works to circulate in the public realm.

Scanned luminous images of Ireland’s “Torpedo” by Ann Hamilton, posted outside of the garage. Photo by Chuqin Jiang.

“It’s dirt, newspapers, concrete, nails, wires, which are really everyday materials. This is an actual connection with David, this idea of simplicity and making.” explained Lian Ladia, the curator of 500 Capp Street Foundation, “And Ann used light to somehow redraw them, understand them by scanning.”

Hamilton’s association with Capp Street and the Marin Headlands at 944 Simmonds Rd. began as far back as 1989, when she was in residence at Capp Street while working to refurbish the dining room the Headlands. 

This year as well, her exhibit at Capp is part of the 40th anniversary of the Headlands Center for the Arts, “Process + Place,” and her renovation of the dining hall can be visited as a part of the Headlands tour.

Starting in 1989, Hamilton spent two years turning the original dim and damp dining room into a main gathering place for all artists who come to the Headlands. To celebrate the completion of the project in 1991, she asked each person to donate one chair to the new dining hall. That’s why the chairs in the hall are mismatched.

The Mess Hall, now the main gathering space in Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito. Photo by Chuqin Jiang.

Another artist highlighted in the Headlands’ anniversary show is Mark Thompson, one of Ireland’s collaborators who, in 1986, transformed the cluster of former military buildings to an art center. His work, “Semaphore,” transformed the gym into a space where sound, light, video and beeswax intervened with each other.

As a life-long beekeeper, Thompson said the work is meant to explore the interplay between human and swarm. The projection video and sound was extracted from his 1976 film, “Immersion,” where he was surrounded by the bees forming an intertwining chain.

Mark Thompson’s “Semaphore” will be open to the public in the gym at Headlands Center for the Arts until Feb. 19. Photo by Chuqin Jiang.

“That threshold between one animal, one life and another was what fascinated me. What is signaled at that moment when we use our eyes as a kind of primary reference?” asked Thompson, who could observe the sunlight through bees’ wings.

The first meeting of Thompson and Ireland was on the second floor at 500 Capp St., though they knew of each other way earlier. “It was a lovely time for us to come together finally,” said Thompson, “Even though his work was more architecturally guided, mine was always site guided in relation to what was happening there; we were kindred spirits.”

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INTERN DATA REPORTER. Chuqin has two degrees in data journalism and she is passionate about making data more accessible to readers. Before arriving in the Mission, she covered small business and migratory birds in New York City while learning to code and design at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. She loves coastal cities, including SF and her hometown Ningbo.

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