Frank Scheuttle, proprietor of SilentVoices Material Culture Gallery on Hertel Avenue, died suddenly this past Sunday, November 27. It is a tremendous loss—to his wife and his two sons, of course, and to his close friends, but also to a broader community through which Frank moved.
That’s where I fit: I was one of Frank’s many peripheral friends. We met not long after my partner and I returned to Buffalo in 2006. We wandered into his gallery and shop one day (in a different location on Hertel at the the time) and marveled at his collection of folk art and toys. We’d become interested in the paintings of local “outsider” artist John Schweikhard, and Frank had a couple of his pieces on the wall. He had a piece by Spain Rodriguez, too, depicting an East Side street fight in the early 1960s.
Not everything Frank had was for sale—he wouldn’t part with one of those Schweikhards that we dearly wanted—but he was happy to talk about the provenance of any item in his ever-shifting display. He was knowledgeable and gave generously of his knowledge. He was kind, funny, gentle, thoughtful. We began to stop by regularly, both for his company and to be in the company of the things he collected, which felt like a single embrace.
That same year we were invited to a New Year’s Day party at the house of two friends on Buffalo’s Lower West Side. It’s a longstanding party, decades old now, but we were new to it, and I was delighted when we arrived to see Frank in the kitchen, smiling brightly as I walked in: a familiar face among the chaos, and a welcoming one. We talked for an hour, easily. I continued to be delighted each subsequent year, when we would meet in the same crowded, bustling kitchen and catch up.
We’d run into each other elsewhere—at art openings, other parties, various events. It was always a pleasure and a comfort; he excelled at providing both to his friends. Being in his circle of acquaintances was affirming: If you’re friends with Frank Scheuttle, I’d tell myself, then you must be living right.
That he will be absent from that New Year’s Day party a month from now is difficult to comprehend. I miss him already and my heart breaks for his family.
There will be a memorial on Thursday, December 1, 6-9pm, at the Foundry (1738 Elmwood Avenue).
Please share your memories of Frank in the comments section.