Joseph Santoro Information and Inventory

Joseph Santoro

(1908 - 1998)

Joseph Santoro


Brought up on Hingham Street in the rough and tumble, multi-ethnic area of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Joe Santoro was the son of Italian-born immigrants. A strong work ethic prevailed in his family, with his father working fourteen-hour days in his barbershop and young Joseph apprenticing toward one day taking over the business. It was not to be: a passion for drawing from a young age resulted in murals donning the barbershop walls and a cousin named Andy Martin, a world-ranked bantamweight professional boxer, got the youngster interested in fighting. Converting a back room of the barbershop into a training facility, Joe was soon engaged in amateur fights throughout Boston and beyond. Eventually a full scholarship to Vesper George Art School was awarded to the young high school graduate, but additional money for food and supplies was needed. Joe turned pro, and over his time of study at Vesper George, he fought twenty- five professional matches. The sports pages of the day called him “a slugger, a throw-back to the days when fighters stood toe-to-toe like gladiators.” Upon graduation, Joe hung up the gloves as a boxer but continued his love of the sport for decades as a judge and referee. He officiated at several championship fights in Boston which included boxers such as Carmen Basilio, Willie Pep, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Marvin Hagler. Throughout his long association with Cape Ann, he achieved numerous awards and accolades in his chosen medium, watercolor, and served for thirty- eight years as a teacher and ultimately director of art in the Cambridge school system. My family and I met Joe and his lovely wife, Josie, in the mid- 1960s and shared many a holiday meal, and even more stories about all the local and colorful artists he knew. A special bond grew between Joe and my father; identical in age, some similarities in upbringing (my father had done amateur boxing and wrestling and spent two years in art school). Joe used to take my dad into Boston to watch the fights for those rare “guy things” where ladies stay home. That sounds pretty good to me.

Joseph Santoro Gallery

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