The Bob Mizer Foundation will soon have a new home.
The owners of The Magazine, Trent Dunphy and Bob Mainardi, located in San Francisco’s bustling downtown area at 920 Larkin Street, have gifted their sprawling, four-story building to the Foundation, whose staff members will gradually transition the organization’s operations to the building over the course of the next several months. The Foundation’s permanent move-in date is yet to be determined.
Currently headquartered in the suburb of El Cerrito, across the Bay from San Francisco, the move to a larger building will allow the Foundation to grow, both in its physical space and in the greater visibility that the location provides, according to Den Bell, founder and president of the Foundation, who called the upcoming expansion the most significant event in the Foundation’s history since its inception.
“Since I acquired his estate in 2003, I’ve envisioned building a research institution dedicated to masculinity in photography, anchored by Bob Mizer’s pioneering legacy,” said Bell. “Bob and Trent’s gift puts this dream on the fast track. Their own legacy and dedication to the preservation of physique photography is a perfect match to the Foundation’s mission, and I couldn’t be more excited to call The Magazine our new home.”
The Magazine has been a mainstay in San Francisco since the early 1970s. The Foundation will share the space with The Magazine for the foreseeable future, according to Bell.
"We are pleased and gratified to know that we will be leaving our collection, which has given us much pleasure over the years, to the Mizer Foundation which will preserve and share this important part of gay history with our community. Bob Mizer was a leader in this field and encouraged many artists and photographers in their work. We are pleased to make our contribution to his vision and legacy.”
Mainardi and Dunphy, both longtime collectors of male physique culture images, say that although they have cherished being a part of the downtown landscape for so many decades, they are proud to share the space with the Foundation and eventually allow the Foundation to be the sole occupant of the building.
The building was designed in 1922 -- the same year in which Mizer himself was born -- and completed in 1925. It housed San Francisco optometrist Dr. Maurice Weiss for many years before the business shuttered its doors. Though it stood vacant for many more years, Mainardi and Dunphy breathed new life into it with The Magazine’s relocation there in 1993 (by that point, it had been open for 20 years, and right down the street). The business itself is dedicated to the sale, appreciation and preservation of printed material, especially in an online world in which access to digital information has translated into declining subscriptions to newspapers and magazines. Inventory aside, the rich, detailed woodwork -- mostly a Viennese influence -- will remain in place.
Trent and Bob have a very extensive personal collection of physique photography which they are also donating to the Foundation. “We are pleased and gratified to know that we will be leaving our collection, which has given us much pleasure over the years, to the Mizer Foundation which will preserve and share this important part of gay history with our community. Bob Mizer was a leader in this field and encouraged many artists and photographers in their work. We are pleased to make our contribution to his vision and legacy.”
The two men continue to oversee their business with the love and care and have done so for the better part of their adulthood. However, they say their lifetime support of Bob Mizer and his work will live on in the Foundation’s transition into the next chapter of its existence.
"Since I acquired his estate in 2003, I’ve envisioned building a research institution dedicated to masculinity in photography, anchored by Bob Mizer’s pioneering legacy."
Bell says that ideally, The Foundation’s new space will include an exhibition area and gift shop on the first floor and a research area on the second floor, where students and scholars may work with the Foundation’s archival materials, such as photographs, slides and film prints. All requests to work in the area will have to be approved by the Foundation’s board of directors.
Foundation staff members will spend the next several weeks making plans for this new future. Eventually, the Foundation’s collection of physical artifacts will be moved from El Cerrito to San Francisco. A party late this Fall will introduce the Foundation’s new shared space, honor the gift and careers of Mainardi and Dunphy, and celebrate both the Foundation’s renovated website and the launch of the highly anticipated book “AMG: 1,000 Model Directory” by publishing giant TASCHEN. The website has officially launched today, with the book release and party to take place later in the Fall. More information on those events will be forthcoming.
“Bob and Trent have insured that Mizer’s work and other estates like his will have a permanent home, Bell said. “I look forward to the coming years we will spend here completing the cataloguing and archiving of the collections we hold, mounting exhibitions of pioneering and current photographers, and launching a series of related events and workshops, now made more easily accessible for public research and education.”
Visit BobMizer.org in the coming weeks for information about the Foundation’s move across the Bay, to make a donation, or to volunteer your time to help with the move itself.
About The Bob Mizer Foundation: Located in San Francisco California, the Bob Mizer Film Archive is the world’s largest repository of original moving images documenting the twentieth century underground physique movement. Spanning five decades (1942-1992), the BMF Archive documents the evolving landscape of Postwar sexual mores through the lens of pioneering artist Bob Mizer. With over 3000 film masters and one million still images, this immense body of work was directly and indirectly instrumental in overcoming legal obstacles to basic human rights regarding censorship and enjoyment of basic personal freedoms. The Bob Mizer Foundation is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of progressive and controversial photography. It is our belief that the most disputed works of art are the most important to the progress of society. The Foundation spurs thought and discussion through the protection and dissemination of photographic material that has been discriminated against, censored or otherwise marginalized. Additional information about Bob Mizer Foundation is available at www.BobMizer.org.