Dusti Bongé studio with husband Archie Bongé

Looking inside an artist’s studio is always insightful. Is it messy or neat? Cramped or open? What does that tell us about the artist’s personality and work? This week through our partnership with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation we take a look inside the studio Dusti Bongé shared with her husband Archie.

Analysis, as always, comes from Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Executive Director Ligia M. Römer.

Archie Bongé’s Studio, 51 Horatio Street, Greenwich Village, NY, c.1928 Photograph. Bongé Family Archives

When Dusti Bongé moved to Chicago in 1922 to study acting she met her future husband Archie Bongé, a painter from Nebraska. Several years later when they had both moved to New York, independently of one another, and both in pursuit of their respective careers, they got reconnected. A courtship followed and a few years later they got engaged to be married.

When Dusti and Archie got married in 1928, they had their wedding on the coast in Biloxi. Best man at their wedding was Archie’s good friend Walter Anderson, the naturalist painter from Ocean Springs, who had attended both the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia and the Arts Student League in New York with Archie.

After the wedding, Dusti and Archie moved back to New York, where they both lived in Archie’s then studio. At the time he lived in a rather small studio apartment in Greenwich Village, back when artists still could afford studios there.

Archie Bongé’s Studio, 51 Horatio Street, Greenwich Village, NY, c.1928 Photograph. Bongé Family Archives.
Archie Bongé’s Studio, 51 Horatio Street, Greenwich Village, NY, c.1928 Photograph. Bongé Family Archives.

The one-room apartment had, what appears to be, a small wood burning stove and a hearth. In a nook under the skylight, in the corner behind the screen covered with blankets was what served as the “kitchen.” Here was a two-burner gas stove, water basin, pots and pans, a corner cabinet with shelves for storing dishes and other kitchen essentials such as Old Dutch Cleaner and Rinso laundry soap.

Dusti and Archie were living the quintessential bohemian lifestyle, that all aspiring artists back then lived, and that, in the most bohemian neighborhood of New York. After a while they moved to a different apartment on West 22 Street until, in 1934, they decided to move down to the coast permanently.

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