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Entries in gallery curator (2)


Steve Argento

He's served his country. Suffered from cocaine addiction. Survived cancer.

There are a lot of past lives packed into this guy. And some of them haven't been pretty. But today, Steve happily continues his family's long history in the art world, as owner of SC Fine Art Gallery.

Steve's new 1,400-square-foot gallery space at the Hungerford Complex is part of a former industrial facility.The nephew of the late painter Ramon Santiago, Steve has never put brush to canvas. But he knows the business of art—and the art of business. His gallery, recently relocated to the Hungerford complex, is filled with prints of his famous uncle's work.

It's been a long road to the Hungerford.

Steve served in the military from 1987 to 1990, and came away with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Once back home, he went into business for himself, later going to work for his uncle's studio. He eventually became Ramon's agent and manager, and ran his gallery.

After Ramon died in 2001, Steve acquired his uncle's estate, created SC Fine Art, and began representing other international artists.

SteveBut in 2005, a series of setbacks brought him to his knees.

“Things started getting chaotic. I spread myself too thin,” he says. “I was going through a divorce. I had all the trappings of success—cars, money, country club membership. I was used to success and I felt like everything I touched had to be a home run.”

He turned to cocaine. By the time he was arrested on drug charges, he was a full-blown addict—and everything he'd worked for was slipping away. Along with his life.

“In the back of my mind, I knew this was gonna kill me,” he says.

He went through the Veterans Court and landed in rehab at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center.

A recent exhibition at the gallery included Rochester artists Christine Knoblauch and Paul Knoblauch, an accomplished husband and wife who are each sculptors in their own right.“They saved my life twice,” he says.

The second came last year—but this time, it wasn't drugs.

Steve was well into his recovery from addiction and thinking about opening a new gallery. He'd moved in with his ex-wife while getting his plans together. But in May 2011, there came another blow.

“I got hit with stage-three prostate cancer,” Steve says.

He fought back. Came through treatment a survivor. And by the fall of last year, his gallery was born.

Artists. Veterans. Movers and shakers. Misfits and addicts. Steve brings their worlds together. Inspires them. Energizes them. Makes them laugh.

Because they know he keeps it real.

“I stopped faking shit a long time ago,” Steve says. “What you see is what you get.”

A fine signature.


See more:

Say hi:, on Facebook and on Twitter


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While Ramon Santiago may be best known for his sensual women and whimsical clowns, one of his most important pieces holds a different kind of significance.

Titled “Never Again,” the piece is a tribute veterans, and includes the caption, “Never again should one generation of veterans forget another.”

Ramon—a Viet Nam vet—created the painting in 1985 after being approached by the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester. Prints of the painting were sold to raise money for the center.

Steve, who belongs to the Rochester Regional Veterans Council, is developing a similar program. He aims to help veterans hospitals nationwide through a website where people will be able to purchase prints and cards of “Never Again” and designate which facility will receive a donation on their behalf.

No launch date has been set.




Erich Lehman

What sort of guy joins a group of artists who spend a month filling an empty, 19th-century factory space with a deliciously bizarre installation of original art and found objects?

Erich, ©2008 Garrick DorsettWelcome to the skateboard-cultured, labyrinthine world of Erich Lehman.

Erich, a Rochester, NY, designer and art curator, is one of five artists who came together in the fall of 2009 to form an art collective, the Sweet Meat Co. The circus-like installation of paintings, sculptures and found objects drew hundreds to its opening night reception.

The name Sweet Meat Co. was inspired by the Hungerford Building, where the installation took place. It once housed a manufacturer of "fruits and flavors," Erich says.

“Sweet meat is old slang for candy,” he says (although attendees may have noticed more of a Sweeney Todd flavor to the theme). “We just kind of meshed those two ideas together to come up with the name.”

Check out more of Erich's snapshots from the Sweet Meat Co. show on Flickr.While he’s proud to be a part of an artist collective, Erich is equally drawn to the role of curator.

He is an insatiable collector of all things creative, from fine art to toys, skateboards, rare shoes and type samples. And that fascination with what makes artists tick led to an epiphany about three years ago.

“Over lunch, one of my roommates asked what I’d do if I didn't have to worry about money,” he recalls. “Without hesitation, I said ‘start an art gallery here in town.’ He looked at me deadpan and then asked, ‘Well, why not? Why don't you do that?’”

Erich was ambivalent at first.

“Running a free-standing gallery in Rochester catering to the niches I love was shaky at best,” he says. “But later that night, back home, I said that somehow, by fall of 2008, I was going to have my first show.”

The artistic enterprise 1975 was born. And just as Erich vowed, 1975 (unrelated to Sweet Meat Co.) had its first show in the fall of 2008.

“I partnered with Lee Gray at Surface Salon in Rochester's South Wedge,” he says, "And from that point on, it was nothing but growth, frayed nerves, and not a lot of sleep the few weeks before openings.”

While at RIT, Erich went to work for Rochester skate shop Krudco, where he designed T-shirts, worked on their advertising, and helped produce video. This series of paintings by Erich, called “The Four,” was inspired by an earlier photo by Krudco photographer Jason Goodrich. “I thought it would look good as a series for our business cards,” Erich says, “so we shot one for each of the four main people at the time.” They are, from left, Chris Hogan-Roy, Alan Presutti, Aaron Costa, and Erich. The series now resides on a wall of Erich’s dining room. “It's one of the rare things of my own that I actually have hanging on any walls,” he says.That first show in 2008 led to more. Some at Surface Salon, others elsewhere. Like the soon-to-be opened exhibit, “The Worst is Yet to Come,” featuring the work of Don Pendleton and Mark Penxa, who are “two incredibly talented creatives from the skateboard world,” Erich says. The show begins Sept. 3 at Gallery Kunstler.

“One of my longtime goals has been to build something that had a strong enough following that I could start bringing in those original inspirational artists that I admired to upstate New York,” he says.

Erich has more exhibits planned for 1975, which will soon celebrate its second anniversary in business.

“This town is filled with so much raw talent and possibility,” he says.

With folks like Erich around, perhaps the best is yet to come.


See more: 1975 Gallery, Sweet Meat Co.

Say hi:, Erich on Twitter


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If you’re in the Rochester, NY, area September 3, “The Worst is Yet to Come,” featuring new works by Mark Penxa and Don Pendleton, debuts with an opening reception from 6-9 p.m. at Gallery Kunstler in the Booksmart Studio at Village Gate Square, 250 North Goodman St. The exhibit runs through Sept. 25, 2010. See the show’s Facebook event page for details and to RSVP.