The National Guard Watres Armory in Scranton, Pennsylvania, takes up a whole block in the city. It’s one of those imposing and decidedly unsexy buildings, a heavyset hunk of brick and stone with turrets up top — prison meets Medieval Times. Don’t let the dreary exterior fool you; inside, it’s a world of wonder.
Since 2015, the Castle — as it’s now nicknamed — has been home to artist Hunt Slonem, who’s best known for his Neo-Expressionist paintings of animals, as seen in the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, among others. The subject of a new book, Gatekeeper: World of Folly (Assouline), his Scranton residence is an explosion of color and, well, stuff, both his own work as well as antique treasures and finds from around the world, from birdcages and historical busts to 19th-Century furniture. The interiors are busy in the most delightful way, every nook and cranny filled with constant visual stimulation. Even the walls are brightly painted — Mykonos-blue in one room, saturated vermillion another… “I am a collector of things,” he explains. “My primary focus is color and objects, making objects work in a space is like a crossword puzzle for me. I wake up in the middle of the night with flashes of where objects should be!”