Inspire(d) Fall 2021

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By the early 1990s, says Steven, “the pace and expense and demands of being a small businessman in Manhattan” had drained him, so the couple relocated to Key West, Florida, where they sought (and found) a slower pace of life. Karleen worked as a nurse while Steven ran an itinerant gallery, driving to shows up and down the East Coast. In the mid2000s, after moving upstate to tiny Floral City, Florida, he had an epiphany: “I did this gallery show in New York that cost $4,000 – but I only took in $3,000. … I loaded up, pulled out of Manhattan at midnight, stopped at a rest stop on I-95 about 100 miles into New Jersey, and woke up the next day with the realization that I could stay home and lose money just as easily.” The rest, as they say, is history. As Steven succinctly explains: “I could not sit around and do nothing, so I started to make things.” And as serendipity would have it, a “wonderfully therapeutic” family-run salvage yard (Mauro’s) sat just a few miles from his Florida home. “I would spend hours going through the yard, which had hundreds of thousands of objects, and come out with a handful of things that appealed to me that I then added to my personal ‘junkyard,’” he says. Over time, those objects evolved into carefully crafted sculptures. “The forms actually determined the artwork,” says Steven, explaining that he chose objects because he liked them, not “with an idea of the completed artwork” already in mind. “What lends a sculpture authenticity is the right placement of forms, and that, in turn, creates an object that is more than its separate parts.”

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Left: Steven’s grain bin sheds are pieces of art themselves. Top: This sculpture is entitled Bongo Moon. Below: Objects Steven has collected, full of potential for future sculptures. / Photos by Sara Friedl-Putnam

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