Best Citizen

Galen Gondolfi

Forget thrift shops, antique stores, Mexican joints and baby boutiques — Galen Gondolfi has revitalized Cherokee Street. More specifically, he has made the intersection of Cherokee and Compton Avenue into a legitimate arts district, although he'll probably slap you if you call it that. This year his concert venue, Radio Cherokee, died, but he birthed a women-centric art gallery named after his mother, Beverly, which sits beside his flagship gallery, Fort Gondo. Behind Beverly is a sculpture/dog park called Leno — named for his father — and next door is the Tin Ceiling theater (, which hosts local and out-of-town touring groups. Opening soon, next door to that, will be Typo, a "laptop-free-zone coffeeshop," explains Gondolfi. "It's just for Luddites. We've got about 50 typewriters in there, and we're going to be selling typewriter ribbons." At the heart of this madness is Gondolfi himself, who lives above Fort Gondo and is constantly bickering with persnickety neighbors who say he doesn't play by the (anti-creative, soul-sucking) rules. And apparently we're complicit. As Gravois Park Block Link Neighborhood Association president Rita Ford said in a July letter to the RFT, "Galen gets so much free publicity from your newspaper for all the venues he opens without permits that he spends a lot of time having to explain his activities at city hall." Guilty as charged. Gondolfi's joints may not all be up to code, but he's a man of action and he's got our town's best interests at heart.
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