Jon’s Absolute Art Anarchy

published May 12, 2011
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Jon H.
Location: Long Beach, California
Size: 880 square feet
Years lived in: 7 years

880 square feet seems like ample space for one person to call home. But what if you’re someone with a passion…no, nix that…an obsession for collecting art? For Jon, the walls and rooms of his 1930’s apartment are themselves a canvas of sorts, an ever-changing Technicolor diorama filled to the ceiling with a who’s who from the world of street art, vinyl collectibles galore, and a rainbow medley of other visual miscellany, all guarded by his friendly canine companion.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
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Jon’s collection even spills out to the hallway in the front of his unit (which is located at the end of the hall). (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Hold onto your hats, shade your eyes and get ready to delve into the realm riding the fine line between clutter and curation.

And just in case you were wondering, yes, that’s a painting of John Tesh on the wall.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My/Our style: Art Anarchy. I have been collecting art for more than 20 years. My collection has seen many changes. In 2005, I discovered the UK street artist Banksy. It has all been downhill (for my checkbook) from there. Wall space is prime real estate in my condo. The only exception is the bathroom. Only a piece from my grandfather, and a gift from my friend Charles, adorn those walls.

Inspiration: When I walk into friends’ homes, I feel like I’m 12. I have the basics (microwave, fridge, washer/dryer, etc.), but other than that, I feel like I live in Pee Wee’s Playhouse. I obsess. I see an artist whom I love, and I literally lose sleep determining whether or not I buy the piece and add it to the collection. I watch Hoarders: Buried Alive and I relate…then I watch American Pickers and it just reinforces my lifestyle.

Favorite Element: Honestly, I LOVE my Adam Wallacavage chandeliers. I have two candelabra chandeliers, and a wall sconce in the bathroom. I LOVE my four-foot Kaws vinyl toy. I had a plastic case made by Plastics Depot to protect it from dog slobber and dust. I LOVE my Peter Gronquist Louie Vuitton chainsaw. Yes, It is real, and yes, it is real gold. As far as 2D art, my Steve “Espo” Powers “Nothing To Do Is Everything With You” commission means a great deal to me. I have a few Futura 2000 pieces that are incredible. Dabs and Myla, and Meggs are two of the best new artists around, and they both happen to be from Australia. Their works are incredible, and I have quite a few pieces from both.

I also love the spaciousness of my unit. One of the prior owners removed a wall and three doors between the hallway and the living room. The view is great. I can see the Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood sign, the Long Beach Grand Prix, the Long Beach marina, and most of the police pursuits in Long Beach.

Biggest Challenge: I would love more wall space. I play Tetris every time I get a new art piece. I have a FEW pieces in storage, and otherwise, the prints end up in the common hallway and the originals get prime spots. 

What Friends Say: It’s just referred to as “The Museum” by my friends. Even my best friend Kevin asks when I got “said” piece….I tell him I had the piece for years, and he will argue with me, declaring it is new and that he never saw it before. Happens every time he (or most any of my friends) comes over.

Biggest Embarrassment: The worst is the dust and dog hair. My cleaning lady does a great job with dog hair…but dust is another story. Also, I am absolutely embarrassed about my lack of creativity when it comes to furniture. Please don’t shoot me, but Ikea is my GO TO place. I like the simplicity of their furniture. I would love to buy everything from CB2 or Design Within Reach, but I prefer to just spend $35 on a shelf for my records, and spend my dough on records to fill the shelves.

Proudest DIY: I hang my art and position the toys myself. I pick my own frames. 

Biggest Indulgence: At this point I think the reader will know the answer. But really, when I bought this condo, I really wanted great permanent appliances for my place. 

Best advice: The basics: buy what you like, and don’t believe the hype. The details: As far as art and toys, if you spend $100-$500, figure you will just love the piece and don’t consider it an investment. If you are spending $600-$2,000, you may be buying into hype of the artist and make sure you love the piece. You may or may not see a return later on in life should you decide to sell. If you are going to spend more than $2,000, you have to absolutely love the art and know the artist’s history.

I don’t buy to sell, but I look at my walls as a savings account as well. I may never sell any of my pieces, but it is good to know that I can and come out well ahead. There are great websites such as to check on print sales histories, and read and to follow trends, see new releases, and generally chat with other collectors.

Dream source: I try and either buy from the artist or the artist’s represented gallery. I bought my Shepard Fairey’s direct from Studio One (his studio), my Adam Wallacavage direct from the artist, my Espo direct from the artist.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


Appliances: Big Chill fridge (red), O’Keefe and Merritt Stove (completely refurbished by Bond’s in Long Beach), L/G Ventless Washer/Dryer (this hooks up to my kitchen sink water source, perfect for apartments/condos that do not allow dryers), Low wattage microwave (1929 wiring is not what it is today), George Foreman Grill (what non-married man DOESN’T have one of these?).

Hardware: Original 1929 knobs, doors. Schlage Link lock/camera system. I control my lights, door locks/cameras from my cell phone.

Furniture: Most of my furniture is from Ikea, Target, and Crate and Barrel.  Cool Sofa in Costa Mesa made my couch. I really have MINIMAL furniture in my house.

Accessories: Toys: Kaws, Kid Robot, Bounty Hunter, Bearbrick, etc. Several Record players (Project Debut III), Labbit stool, artist pillows, Atari, Colecovision, Intellivision, Vectrex games and systems collection. 

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Lighting: Original 1920’s chandelier, Adam Wallacavage candle chandeliers, Adam Wallacavage wall sconce, Kaws light bulbs, bunny rabbit lamp from Urban Outfitters, Kii Arens light box.

Paint: Antique white. Chipped brown.

Flooring: Original hardwood floors from 1929 in the living room, tile in the kitchen and hallway, hardwood floors in the bedroom.

Rugs and Carpets: Kaws artist rug, Joe Ledbetter artist rug, and Huck Gee artist rug.

Tiles and Stone: Tile in the hallway and kitchen.

Window Treatments: Custom made brown drapes in the living room, and blood red wine drapes in the bedroom. The drapes are white on the outside to comply with the buildings regulations.

Beds: IKEA frame.

Artwork: 200+ pieces on my walls.

Thanks, Jon!

Images: Gregory Han