Galen's Ad-hoc Apartment for the Arts

Galen's Ad-hoc Apartment for the Arts

Name: Galen Gondolfi
Location: Saint Louis, MO
Size: 2,513 square feet
Years lived in: 9 years

It takes a special gift to wrangle the random and disparate into something functional and beautiful, whether it's a diverse community of people or an apartment of stuff. Galen - a long time community organizer and housing advocate - shows commitment to both. His mixed-use building sits in the Cherokee Street district in Saint Louis, an area known for its unlikely marriage of antiques, mexican food, and an alternative arts scene. Galen lives upstairs in a two bedroom apartment. Fort Gondo, the gallery he runs downstairs, is a revolving door for all manner of independent artists.

Galen's living space befits his open-tent philosophy. Taking a tour through his multiple rooms and hallways, it's clear that all is welcome. There is a metal structure plucked from the streets of boston, salvaged porch railings lining the walls, and old photographs of his parents on a dresser in the hall. Every surface is rich with both art (many by artists whose work showed at Fort Gondo) and artifact. He has kept many of the items for twenty years through moves from rural Illinois, to Chicago, to Boston, and now to Saint Louis.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My style: Eclectic, ad-hoc, and accretionary. I use an "amalgamated, fate-driven procurement process" if you will. Read: thrift shops, yard sales and dumpsters. To be candid, I gave up the affliction some time ago; now people just relentlessly give me stuff.

Inspiration: Father's den, mother's sewing room and select manifestations of material culture post-1850 (the more oxidized, the better).

Favorite Element: Changes on a weekly basis; this week it's plastic flowers (picked from a public trash can) housed within three different glass bell jars atop the piano. Each jar has a glass knob at its top which functions as a kaleidoscope of sorts when viewing the wallpaper backdrop.

Biggest Challenge: "Less is more." Hence, I'm forever rotating stock and amidst a downsizing effort. Suffice it to say that my basement is stuffed to the gills.

What Friends Say: "Have you considered medication?" And then they go on to offer me some castoff of their own - perpetually feeding the desire and pathology.

Biggest Embarrassment: I've never baked a damn thing in my life, yet I openly display cake tins, molds and actual display cakes. I guess you can't have your cake and eat it to.

Proudest DIY: Wheeling home a 1948 Frigidaire on an appliance dolly for five blocks (slight uphill gradient) and then lugging it up a flight of stairs to my second floor kitchen.

Biggest Indulgence: Nutella - but not as a design element, per se.

Best advice: Never carry cash when frequenting thrift shop and yard sales - and always drive a sub-compact for self-restraint.

Dream source: My great Aunt Lillian's house in Seneca, Illinois.


Art: folk art by Howard Finster, faux wood painting by Chris Thorson, and SCUD missile mappings by Ben Halstead

Furniture: thrift shops, yard sales, friends, and dumpsters

(Thanks, Galen!)

Images: Ann Manubay, Dabney Frake

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