Bruce Wolfe’s career in sculpture spans forty years of receiving commissions to do busts and figurative portraits of many notable personalities. He studied art at San Jose State University and the Art Institute of San Francisco. He also studied with Bettina Steinke and Bruno Lucchesi. He is adept in both oils and clay and has taught figure painting as well as sculpture in several of his native Northern California art schools. Mr. Wolfe is a fellow in the National Sculpture Society and he just received an honorary Doctorate from the Academy of Art in San Francisco, California.
Photos by Ralf Hillebrand
Oct. 2013 a statue of golf legend, Arnold Palmer was unveiled. It is nine feet tall with an overall height of 12’9” to the top of the golf club. The statue is featured prominently on the Wake Forest University, N.C. golf center.
The fall of 2012 Rice University unveiled the 9’ statue of founding president, Edgar Odell Lovett as a part of their Centennial celebration. Also unveiled at Vanderbilt University was a monument to Martha Ingram for her generous gifts to the University as well as her energy and vision.
Unveiled in March 2012 was the 10’, 4700-pound statue of Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins and two other hockey defenders at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Over 6,000 fans gathered to see the unveiling of the statue named “Le Magnifique”.
Philip Breseden, the Governor of Tennessee, sat for his portrait in bronze for Mr. Wolfe. It was placed in the Nashville main Public library spring 2011, as a tribute to his outstanding service to the library system of the state.
Unveiled at the Founder’s Plaza of the Kansas City Chiefs Arrowhead stadium, July 2010 was the 9’8” statue of sports innovative pioneer, Lamar Hunt. Two additional statues were also placed; one at the Frisco, Texas Stadium and one at the Columbus, Ohio Stadium. The pose of Mr. Hunt is casual, with his shirt-sleeves rolled up as he enjoyed watching the sporting events.
Spring 2009, an 8’4”standing sculpture of Barbara Jordan was unveiled at the University of Texas in Austin. It weighed 1000 lbs and was surrounded by two 10’ granite stelae on which quotes from Barbara Jordan’s speeches were carved. The project was a University and community effort and the unveiling was a colorful, exciting and moving event. The commission involved designing and purchasing the stones for the space at the University, as well as shipping the sculpture from Berkeley, California to Texas. Ms. Jordan was a much loved teacher at the University in her post-political life and Bruce was thrilled to be chosen to do a second portrait of her, the first being at the Airport in Austin.
A 5’8” seated figure of Margaret Thatcher was unveiled at Hillsdale University in Michigan, the spring of 2008. Mr. Wolfe had the great privilege of working with Mrs. Thatcher before sculpting the bronze statue.
Another bronze statue was also unveiled in 2008 at Youngstown University in Ohio. This was a former president of the University, Howard Jones, and he was shown walking down steps carrying a briefcase.
For the 9’ illuminated sculpture of former Mayor Illus. W. Davis of Kansas City, Missouri, Mr. Wolfe worked with the Architects of the Parks Department, the head of the Nelson-Atkins Museum and the sculpture committee. The standing bronze figure is located in the Civic Center Park between the Mayor’s office and the Justice Department.
Mr. Wolfe installed the 1.2 life size 7’4” sculpture of John Hannah for the Michigan State University Campus in 2004. The walking figure is located at the John Hannah Plaza as a tribute to the University’s President of several decades. The seven-foot bronze sits upon a black granite base, on which his name has been carved in gold letters.
The Old Mission in Santa Barbara, California chose Bruce Wolfe to do four 7’ figures in their historic chapel niches. Two of the four bronzes, one of St. Clare and St. Francis, plus a 6’ bronze Damiano Cross were installed in the fall of 200l. The bronze figures of Christ and Mary Magdalene were decorated with orchids and candles and installed for Easter of 2003. The Mission committee sought a modern concept for their parishioners that would blend with the architecture of the historic buildings.
The 1.2 heroic-sized sculpture of Barbara Jordan in the Austin, Texas, airport was well received at the 2002 unveiling. Mr. Wolfe was selected to do the sculpture after a comprehensive artist selection process. Each of the six finalists, selected from fifty candidates, did a maquette and presented it, as well as spoke to a panel of judges. He was the chosen sculptor and very honored to do the portrait of Ms.
In 1999 he did a 24” bronze portrait of Steve Silver, creator of the long running San Francisco play, “Beach Blanket Babylon”. The bronze sits atop a large stone in front of the Club Fugazi and is engraved with images from the play.
In 1998 he did an 8’ bronze of T. Jack Foster, the founder of Foster City, California. He worked with the sons of Mr. Foster and it is placed in front of the Foster City, City Hall.
Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California, has a heroic-size bronze figure of St. John Baptist De La Salle, as the centerpiece of the college. The bronze done in 1997, is 10.5 ‘x 5’ on a white tiled 6’ base designed by Mr. Wolfe. His sculpture features a kneeling figure with robes draped over the base. The college also has a bronze of St. Anne and St. Mary for the remodeled chapel done by Mr. Wolfe, as well as a life-size bronze of St. Jude. On campus are also bronze portraits of former president; Brother Mel Anderson and bronze medallion bas-reliefs of donors to the college.
Bruce Wolfe has done numerous bronze portraits where the subject modeled for him. He works from life in clay on all his sculptures; then molds are made, bronze poured and patinas done. These portraits include Chong-Moon-Lee, a generous donor to the New Asian Art Museum in San Francisco; a portrait of Dr. Norman Shumway, the heart transplant pioneer at the Stanford University School of Medicine; George Shultz, former Secretary of State for Stanford University and the Hebrew University on Mt. Scopias in Israel; Kurt Herbert Adler, director of the San Francisco Opera at the War Memorial Opera House; Dr. Jim Potchen for the new Radiology building at Michigan State University; Phil Frank, a popular cartoonist of the San Francisco Chronicle; Lotfi Mansouri , recently retired director of the San Francisco Opera; and a bust of Martha Ingram in the new Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Mr. Wolfe has also painted portraits of Bruce McCandless, a NASA astronaut, displayed in the Smithsonian Aerospace Museum, Anthony Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice, George Will, Muhammad Ali, John Muir, Jack London, St. Mary’s College donors, and two Bohemian Club Presidents.
Bruce Wolfe is currently working on a bust of Gavin Newsome for the San Francisco City Hall and on A 7’ standing bronze of Tony Bennett for the Fairmont Hotel where Mr. Bennett Sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”.