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Stephen T. Chapin

August 12, 1942 November 6, 2015
Stephen T. Chapin
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Obituary for Stephen T. Chapin
Stephen Tuckerman Chapin, an accomplished visual artist with an uncanny talent for restoring damaged art, especially African art, died at his home in Providence, RI on Nov. 6. He was 73. The cause was an apparent heart attack.
Steve Chapin was born in Worcester, MA, on Aug. 12, 1942, the eldest of two sons born to Charles S.T. Chapin and Carol (Earle) Chapin. Both his parents and his brother, Christopher, known as “Kit,” predeceased him.
He spent most of his childhood in Canton, MA, and attended Roxbury Latin, a boys’ school founded in 1645. With its history as the oldest school in continuous existence in North America, Roxbury Latin was a fitting place for Steve, whose lineage dated to Colonial days. His earliest ancestor to arrive in America, Samuel Chapin, first settled in Roxbury four years after arriving from England in 1635, later moving to a homestead on the Connecticut River.
Steve was not shy about reminding those whose forbears had less time on these shores that he counted Paul Revere among his ancestors, and he relished a comment by an in-law steeped in Rhode Island history that Steve had the most impressive genealogy in the state.
As Steve noted in a journal entry, Roxbury Latin had never taught art, but it gave him a “broom closet” to work in and at graduation presented him with an art book, the first-ever art prize awarded by the school in its more than 300 years.
Steve went on to study painting and sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design, where he had the first one-man show as an undergraduate and won a Carnegie grant to spend his senior year in Rome as part of an honors program. After RISD, he went on to Yale School of Art, from which he received an MFA.
At RISD he met a painter, Maria Scotti, but their relationship did not blossom until they were both studying in Rome. They wed in 1967. From then on, Maria became his muse, his best critic, his fiercest champion, his constant competition, his caring wife and the woman he loved and adored endlessly until his end.
Steve and Maria were a perfect match but hardly a matched set. His passions burned like a crackling bonfire. Hers burned noiselessly though just as hot. He loved sleek cars and fast motorcycles driven at furious speeds. She was happy to remain stationary. He liked gin, baseball, politics and fishing. She liked a warm chair, a sweet coffee and a crossword puzzle. He was an unmade bed. She was a meticulously annotated address book. He called her “Kid.”
After they married, they moved to Ohio, where Steve taught at The Ohio State University in Columbus. That was followed by a stint at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth until they decided to move their life and their art to New York City.
They lived at first in Tribeca and then were among the early artists settling in Soho, where they spent long nights in a massive loft -- smoking, drinking coffee (often bought at a Chinese restaurant downstairs) and making art. But the New York art world can be treacherous ground, and in 1983, Steve withdrew from it, vowing to make exactly the art that was in him with no thought of showing his work.
For many years thereafter he worked as an art restorer, eventually starting his own business with a friend. Later, he worked solo, amassing a list of clients who valued his keen eye and incredible ability to repair damaged art.
Steve and Maria lived in New York for most of the year but in the summer repaired to an 1836 church they bought in Hopkinton City, RI. It was a refuge they both cherished.
Maria died suddenly in 2012, and Steve struggled to recover from the loss. In the summer of 2014, he left New York for good and moved to Providence to start a new life.
Steve Chapin is survived by four cousins: Julia Chapin of Pelham, NY; Amy (Chapin) Lewis of Malvern, PA; Capt. Robert W. Chapin of Virginia Beach, VA; and Dexter Chapin; four sisters-in-law: Paula Shevlin of Jamestown, RI; Elena Scotti of Southwest Harbor, ME; Barbara Riehle of Washington, DC; and Alicia Scotti of New York; four brothers-in-law: Ciro Scotti of Matunuck, RI; Peter Scotti of Cranston, RI; Frank Scotti and Joseph Scotti, both of Jamestown, RI; 11 nieces: Elisa Rizzo of Bronxville, NY; Hilary Karmilowicz of Rye, NY; Kate Mastellone of Darien, CT; Francesca Bunghez , Christina Scotti, Maria Shevlin, Elena Scotti, Leah Mandel and Agnes Scotti, all of New York; Anna Riehle of Washington; Alice Scotti of Raleigh, NC; four nephews: Thomas Shevlin of Little Compton, RI; Giovanni Scotti and Matt Mandel of New York; Marco Scotti of Cranston.
A memorial service will be held on the grounds of Steve’s and Maria’s home in Hopkinton City on Nov. 22.
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