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Bruce Wolfe’s sculpture career spans more than four decades. He specializes in figurative portraits and has rendered works of such notable public figures as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late U.S. representative and civil rights activist Barbara Jordan, former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz, former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. For Thatcher’s statue, Wolfe traveled to England to sit with the the grande dame of British politics and take photos and measurements.
He studied art at San Jose State University and the San Francisco Art Institute. Starting his career as an art director for a big advertising firm in San Francisco, Wolfe eventually turned to illustration and went out on his own. One of his first sculpture commissions was of Kurt Adler, music director of the San Francisco Opera.
Wolfe has sculpted works that convey the personalities of mayors, city founders, college presidents, major donors, college coaches, notable athletes, an opera directors, medical pioneers, and religious figures. They stand, they contemplate, they sit, they observe in ways completely characteristic to the person represented.
Four of Wolfe’s 7-foot bronze figures can be found in niches of the historic chapel at the Old Mission in Santa Barbara representing St. Clare, St. Francis, Mary Magdalene and Christ. His 9-foot statue of basketball great Magic Johnson is located at Michigan State University.
For each of his figures Wolfe researches exact dress and mannerisms, going so far as to collect clothing, jewelry and other items as well as visiting his subject’s home and workplace to ensure a wholly accurate presentation. He starts work in clay, using the finished piece to create the mold for a bronze pour, then completing the project with a patina finish.
Mentions: Richard McDonald, Lamar Hunt, Mario Lemieux, Artworks Foundry, Gladding McBean, George Shultz, Norman Shumway, Edgar Odell Lovette, Frank Gehry, John Hannah
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