Personal Space: Jeff Kapfer

A local artist surrounds himself with vibrant colors and whimsical accessories as bold and creative as his paintings.

St. Louis artist Jeff Kapfer is renowned for his love of birds. From childhood on, he’s had, let’s say, a bit of a fascination. His big, bright, graphic depictions of our feathered friends are instantly recognizable to area art lovers, and avian themes also run through his downtown loft space. Of course, his own work lines the walls, but there are plenty of other birds perched about. They kind
of sneak up on you: the rooster cookie jar in the kitchen; the owl salt and pepper shakers; the J Schatz egg-shaped coin bank; the pair of stylized geese flying above the front door. Jeff lives and works in his loft, and also uses it as a gallery to display his work for prospective clients. Most of the furnishings are bits and pieces Jeff has found or come across by chance, rescued from imminent disposal or destruction. For example, his collection of mannequins was saved from a local department store looking to jettison excess fixtures; the stackable plastic school chairs he uses as stepping stools when hanging his work were a garage sale find; the funky bright orange end table was salvaged from a local merchant gone bust. "I hate to see anything end up in a landfill," he says. "I can’t stand waste."

Despite his penchant for taking home stray furniture and accessories, Jeff strives for a clean, uncluttered look to his space. "I don’t want a focus on furniture or stuff but on the art," he says, and the hard industrial shapes, neutral colors and exposed features inherent in his loft space provide the perfect background for accentuating the vibrant colors and bold lines of his creations. The resulting mix of stark functionality, color and whimsy provides endless contrasts and a result- ing feast for the eyes. Jeff has been in his loft, the Art Lofts, for the last eight years, since graduating from Webster University. Although his original plan didn’t entail roosting in the loft for so long, it’s definitely home now.

Photography by Jennifer Silverberg

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