San Francisco’s 500 Capp Street Foundation, a small museum in the Mission District dedicated to Bay Area conceptual artist David Ireland, who passed away in 2009, has had a tumultuous few weeks that included protests over the firing of one of its two curators, the resignation of the other, and the cancelation of exhibitions.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a crowd gathered outside the museum on July 6th to stand in solidarity with Bob Linder, the foundation’s head curator who was laid off late last month. While 500 Capp Street implied that Linder was laid off because of funding in the wake of national and local grants the museum had expected to receive but didn’t, the Chronicle suggested that Linder was fired so that the museum could “drastically scale back the programming of national and international artists that Linder curated” and in order to “make [500 Capp Street] more of a museum dedicated solely to the installation work of [David] Ireland.”
A show of works by the artists Liz Magor and Nina Canell that had opened on June 22nd was scheduled to run until October 12th, but was abruptly closed by the artists on July 8th, as Magor and Canell elected to end the show in solidarity with Linder and the protestors. Following suit, other artists who had been commissioned for future shows at the museum also opted to cancel them.
This left the museum with only one staffed curator, Diego Villalobos, who tendered his resignation last week. The foundation board chairman Jock Reynolds told the Chronicle that Villalobos was leaving because “he has an opportunity outside of the Bay Area and he has chosen to pursue this.” But in an email to the Chronicle, Villalobos denied the factuality of Reynolds’s statement, saying simply: “I resigned for other reasons.” Villalobos declined to comment further, citing a nondisclosure agreement he signed when he was hired.
The 500 Capp Street Foundation has temporarily closed as it installs an exhibition of David Ireland’s work in lieu of the previously programmed exhibitions.