Tour the Art-Filled Home of Deborah and Andy Rappaport
Deborah and Andy Rappaport live and breathe art. Both were exposed to it from an early age by their families: He regularly went on museum trips with his mother, and Deborah’s grandmother was a painter. “I visited her frequently in New York, and we’d go to the Met and MoMA,” Deborah says. “She taught me how to appreciate art. Her love of it was contagious.” Now the couple’s mutual passion is the core of their lives. The Rappaports are the cofounders of Minnesota Street Project, a new complex of three warehouses in Dogpatch providing below-market-rate studio and gallery spaces for the city’s visual arts community, helping enable artists and gallerists to stay in San Francisco as rents continue to skyrocket. “It’s taking us back to our roots,” says Deborah. “We’re re-experiencing the thrill of discovery.”
Art is also at the core of the Rappaports’ home. The traditional exterior of their Queen Anne house defies a clean-lined, spacious interior that showcases more than 100 photographs, prints, sculptures, paintings and new media works. A steel-and-glass staircase cuts through its central channel, serving as an energetically charged connection between three floors of visually provocative pieces. In the entry, several large-scale works include Descansos, an oil on canvas by Scott M. Greene; Allegory of the Monoceros, a tapestry woven by Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth; and a grid of framed C-prints from Christian Jankowski’s film Casting Jesus. Andy hastens to note, however, “This is not a museum, this is what home feels like to us,” recounting how a guest once told him how courageous he was to live with so much strong art. “I had to smile because this is where we retreat to when we don’t want to be courageous.”
Andy’s favorite spot in the house is a toss up between the piano bench in his music room—he owns an impressive collection of guitars and other string instruments—and a spot in the front gallery room, which is painted with a deep purple emulsion rather than in the expected white. Deborah worked with interior designer Ilaria Ventriglia Burke to choose the color, a backdrop for Vik Muniz’s reality-defying Sandcastle, a digital C-print of a castle etched onto a single grain of sand.
As it does for many collectors, knowing the story behind the concept can transform a simple viewing into an indelible experience; it’s something that defines Deborah and Andy’s own story as well. Their passion for art blossomed when they began dating; they were both operating on tight budgets, so free gallery openings were perfect date venues. “Then as now, we enjoy talking about art,” says Andy, “so we’re naturally drawn to emerging and mid-career artists who are still formulating and analyzing their ideas.”
Minnesota Street Project is now their own personal legacy. By creating the community-driven complex, the Rappaports are helping ensure emerging Bay Area artists are supported. By providing them with space to breathe, work and develop their practices, the Rappaports have fully committed to the belief that art is not just a luxury, but also a vital way of life.
The next phase of the endeavor is the art storage and services division, created to help Minnesota Street Project fund itself. The facility, located half a block from the gallery and studio buildings, offers art shipping and receiving services, viewing and photography spaces, plus storage—including more than 100,000 square feet of climate-controlled space—for collectors and institutions. One-hundred percent of profits from the venture go to support the artists, galleries and institutions of Minnesota Street Project. And, true to form, the Rappaports have not only talked the talk, but walked the walk: Their personal collection was the first to be moved in.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2016 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: True Believers.