Guide to the David Cannon Dashiell Papers, 1975-1996

Processed by Alan A. Foss and Martin Meeker.
© 2003
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Guide to the David Cannon Dashiell Papers, 1975-1996

Accession number: 2001-36

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

San Francisco, California
Processed by:
Alan A. Foss and Martin Meeker
Date Completed:
February, 2003
© 2003 The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: David Cannon Dashiell Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1975-1996
Accession number: 2001-36
Creator: Dashiell, David Cannon (1952-1993)
Extent: 6 Boxes
Repository: The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
San Francisco, California.
Abstract: This collection documents the creative works of artist David Cannon Dashiell. This collection includes written, conceptual, and design works produced from the middle 1970s through 1993 when the artist died. Personal items in the collection are limited to a small cache of photographs and slides.
Language: English.

Administrative Information


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright to unpublished materials has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], David Cannon Dashiell Papers, 2001-36, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

Acquisition Information

Donated to the GLBT Historical Society by the Estate of David Cannon Dashiell in 2001.


David Cannon Dashiell was born on July 4, 1952, in Tokyo, Japan. His parents were Samuel Dashiell and Dorothy Cannon; he was the grandson of author Dashiell Hammett. Dashiell's father was a Cartographer for the United States government and lived, primarily, in South East Asia from the American occupation after the Second World War until the height of the Vietnam War. Dashiell thus spent his childhood abroad until he was returned to the United States in 1968 because his father felt that East Asia was becoming dangerous for non-military Americans. He spent the next several years moving from state to state before finishing his high school years in Florida.
Dashiell attended the California Institute of Arts (CalArts) in Valencia, California, where he worked with John Baldessari. From CalArts he received a BFA in 1974 and an MFA in 1976. After graduation, Dashiell moved to Los Angeles and worked at an architecture firm. While establishing himself in the field of graphic and industrial design, Dashiell sought to further explore his sexuality and felt San Francisco would be the ideal place in which to do that. He moved to the City in the early 1980s.
He resumed working as an artist in the context of the spreading AIDS epidemic and, in particular, his sense that he might be infected with the virus (at a point in time when HIV testing was not yet available). Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Dashiell was a productive and respected conceptual artist; he focused on themes related to the AIDS epidemic, including sexuality, disease, medicine, and apocalyptic symbolism. His works were exhibited at many galleries across the country including Beyond Baroque in Venice, California, and the New Langton Arts in San Francisco. In 1993, he received the prestigious Adaline Kent Award from the San Francisco Art Institute. He died from AIDS on 30 June 1993, just a few days prior to his 41st birthday. His works are included in many private collections as well as the San Francisco MOMA, University Art Museum Berkeley, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Scope and Content of Collection

The David Cannon Dashiell Collection was donated to the GLBT Historical Society by the artist's estate. The Collection includes a wide sampling of the artist's work. Included in the collection are writing samples (e.g. poetry, plays, and scripts), photographs and slides of the artist's visual/conceptual work, and printed materials detailing video and architectural works. In addition to the many slides and photos representing the artwork, the collection includes personal photos of the artist's friends and family. The collection further includes a number of exhibition catalogs and brochures from his various shows as well as published features and reviews of his work. Very few personal papers are included in the collection.


The collection is divided into 3 series:
  1. Overview and Personal Information
  2. Creative Works
  3. Visual Items

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Gay men

Related Material at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

Title: "Habiliment" painting
Identifier/Call Number: 2001-37

Container List


Series 1: Overview and Personal Information, 1981-1996

Physical Description: 1 Box

Scope and Content Note

This series includes material dealing mostly with the artist and his work, including a resume, a short artist biography, a few correspondence items, and the artist's portfolio. Feature articles, reviews, and listings also are included in this series. One folder contains a few items that seem to be simply unrelated items from the artist's estate, including a "whoopee cushion," a torn book label, and several pieces of scrap paper. Also included in this series are grant applications and letters of recommendation.
Box-folder 1/1

Biographical Information, 1992-1993

Box-folder 1/2

Death Notice, 1993

Box-folder 1/3

Inventory list of Artist's Estate, 1996

Box-folder 1/4

Personal Telephone Directory, 1992

Box-folder 1/5

Mailing Lists, 1992

Box-folder 1/6-1/8


Box-folder 1/6

Housing, 1993

Box-folder 1/7

Party Invitations, 1981, 1991, 1992

Box-folder 1/8

Miscellaneous, 1992-1993

Box-folder 1/9-1/11


Box-folder 1/9

Applications, 1991-1992

Box-folder 1/10

Letters of Recommendation, 1992-1993

Box-folder 1/11

Grants Received, 1992-1993

Box-folder 1/12

Portfolio, 1992

Box-folder 1/13

Insurance and Inventory of Art Works, 1992-1993

Box-folder 1/14

Miscellaneous Items, n.d.

Box-folder 1/15-1/22

Feature Articles and Reviews

Box-folder 1/15

Artforum, "Reviews", 1993

Box-folder 1/16

Outlook, "Situation", 1991

Box-folder 1/17

Outlook, "Healing Arts", 1992

Box-folder 1/18

Shift, "David Cannon Dashiell", 1990

Box-folder 1/19

Venice Magazine, "Art Galleries", 1991

Box-folder 1/20

Visions Art Quarterly, "Alternative Opportunities: A Report from the Bay Area", 1989

Box-folder 1/21

Visions Art Quarterly, "Showcase", 1991

Box-folder 1/22

Miscellaneous Articles, 1989-1990

Box-folder 1/23-1/24

Art Exhibition Flyers and Catalogs

Box-folder 1/23

Folder A, 1988-1993

Box-folder 1/24

Folder B, 1987-1996


Series 2: Creative Works, 1975-1993

Physical Description: 2 Boxes, 4 Folders

Scope and Content Note

This series contains the extant records of Dashiell's creative work. This series contains items covering an approximately 20-year period. Dashiell's creative output included: written work, conceptual work, and design projects. Note: Box 6 is an oversize box.
Box-folder 2/1-2/6

Written Works

Box-folder 2/1

"Get Your Rocks Off" articles, California Voice, 1983

Box-folder 2/2-2/4


Box-folder 2/2


Box-folder 2/3


Box-folder 2/4


Box-folder 2/5

Prose, n.d.

Box-folder 2/6

"An Imaginary Manifesto," Mirage #4, 1993

Box-folder 2/7-3/1

Conceptual Works

Box-folder 2/7

"16 Plays", 1975-1977

Box-folder 2/8

Drawings Notebook, 1989

Box-folder 2/9-2/11

"Invert, Oracle"

Box-folder 2/9

Catalog, 1989

Box-folder 2/10

Fourth Draft, 1988

Box-folder 2/11

Fifth Draft, 1989

Box-folder 2/12-3/1

"Queer Mysteries"

Box-folder 2/12

Exhibition Information and Description, 1993

Box-folder 2/13

Programs, 1993

Box-folder 2/14

Miscellaneous, 1992-1993

Box-folder 3/1

Box #0744, 1993

Box-folder 3/2-3/4

Design Works

Box-folder 3/2

Buckler Residence and Furniture, n.d.

Box-folder 3/3

Dolor Residence Specs, n.d.

Box-folder 3/4

Graphic Design Projects, n.d.

Box-folder 6/1-6/4


Box-folder 6/1

Portrait of John Donahue, 1985

Box-folder 6/2

Portrait of David Freedman, 1985

Box-folder 6/3

Portrait of Steve Chivers, 1985

Box-folder 6/4

Portrait of Carolyn Kemp, 1985


Series 3: Visual Items, 1975-1993

Physical Description: 2 Boxes

Scope and Content Note

This series includes over 1000 photographs and slides. The majority of the visual material documents Dashiell's various creative projects. Also included in this series are slides and photographs of friends and family as well as photographs and slides of Dashiell's visit to Europe.
Box-folder 4/1

London and Amsterdam, n.d.

Box-folder 4/2

Florence and Venice, n.d.

Box-folder 4/3

Rome, Pompeii, and Florence, n.d.

Box-folder 4/4

Paris, n.d.

Box-folder 4/5-4/8

Pompeii Frescos (detail), Mounted Color Photos

Box-folder 4/5

Folder A, n.d.

Box-folder 4/6

Folder B, n.d.

Box-folder 4/7

Folder C,n.d.

Box-folder 4/8

Folder D,n.d.

Box-folder 5/1

Identification Cards, 1975-1992

Box-folder 5/2

Personal Photos and Slides, n.d.

Box-folder 5/3

Barry Byford Family Photos, n.d.

Box-folder 5/4

"Carrie" Slides, n.d.

Box-folder 5/5

1993 March on Washington Slides, 1993

Box-folder 5/6

Doler House, "Big Tree Manor", 1989

Box-folder 5/7

Bush Street Apartment, n.d.

Box-folder 5/8

Saturn, Rings, and Moons Slides, n.d.

Box-folder 5/9

"Invert Oracle" Exhibition Slides, 1989

Box-folder 5/10

"Queer Mysteries" Exhibition Slides, 1993

Box-folder 5/11

Inventory of Artist's Estate Photos and Slides, 1985-1993