Bruce Soffer is energized emotionally, intellectually and even physically by his relationship with art. His early interest in imagery was ignited by photographs taken by his father of friends on the streets of New York City. They appeared so orderly and exciting, belonging to a time long past, frozen in shades of gray on small rectangles of photographic paper. He recalls his dad with an 8mm movie camera pressed gently against his face, making b&w and color films, primarily of motion and closeups. Bruce was thrilled to see them on the silvery white screen magically transported there by the large gray metal movie projector. These photographs and films are what initially stimulated his interest in visual communication.
During college he saw the George Tooker painting “Subway 1950” at the Whitney Museum and became absorbed within its space. For the first time he realized how geometry, perspective, shape, color and gesture can impact the mood or message of a painting. A few years later while travelling in Greece and Israel he met two Swiss photojournalists who inspired him to study photography. Upon returning to the U.S. he attended the NY-Phoenix School of Design studying photography and its relationship with aesthetic realism. After art school he assisted in the curatorial department at The International Center of Photography(ICP) while also working on freelance photo projects. The museum staff and artists he met sparked his long term inquiry into all the visual arts. He continuously explores the photographic medium, especially how shape, form, spatial relationships, light and shadow influence the final image. Bruce also advised artists and designers in photography, video, fashion, dance, music and television with design strategies for their advertising, public relations and marketing programs. All these pursuits have led to his belief in the necessity of art to society, culture and the individual.
Bruce has a binary, intelligible philosophy about visual art, both its creation and its metamorphosis post production: the dissemination, absorption and affect upon its audience. He is visually stimulated by artworks that emit an inertia or thrust, a type of energy created by the use of geometry, color, shape, form, angles, perspective, light, dark, depth, surface, layering, scale and spatial relationships. These are available tools for artists and they may create in any way using these components. It may even be the subtle touch a brushstroke. Most artists have their favorite material but that is not of significance. How used and what is expressed through that materiality is what provides the works prominence.
About five years ago Bruce felt the necessity to inject his voice about art and culture into the existing public dialogue. Since then he has curated exhibitions of paintings and photographs. A few years years ago at the opening of an exhibition he curated “Hands On” by photographer Lourenso Ramataur, he met the sculptor Gunes Akseki. They spoke of art and culture while exploring a deeper understanding of three dimensional form. Gunes made clear his passion to create monumental sculptures that consider the underlying principles and ideas that formed time and space, the universe and all life forms by creating a commonality of universal values in the Public Art arena that moves culture towards change in the social landscape. They formed an organization that will focus on the creation of public art, Art In Environment where Bruce is the Curator/ Creative Director. He believes that public art is the museum space for all people, reaching a larger and more diverse audience. Since all works are collaborative there will be an integration of scientists, technologists, designers and interdisciplinary artists within AIE.
He states that Public Art is being commissioned, created, installed and viewed by more people than at any time in history, but like many facets of our culture this reach is wide, but its meaning shallow. Yes they are pop pieces, at times bordering on decoration that do not address who we are as a civilization, the urgent concerns of our time, or possibly the most vital issue to our species; what makes us human or what makes us US? Despite this reality there are public artworks of exemplary note. A monumental sculpture Masks(Pentagon) 2015 by Thomas Houseago installed at Rockefeller Center was a collaboration between The Public Art Fund and Tishman-Speyer, the owner of Rock Center. Each of the five masks were joined at their vertical edge to create a pentagon, placed upon a tiered platform base of raw redwood. I visited the site twice for 2-3 hours and it was apparent that much of the public were involved by interacting readily with this novel and commanding structure. Plain and simple, the art caused people to think, possibly beyond themselves while connecting with others. "Masks" contained universal meaning that spurred depth of thought. It also defines aesthetic beauty and was created in a technically masterful way. It was a physically interactive form as its shape and scale allowed for a large open interior space one could easily enter and exit. Once inside facing the rear of the faces the grid like pattern of "Masks" construction was revealed. Standing inside the viewer could look through the eyes outwards to their surroundings, including the grand art-deco architecture of Rockefeller Center. This is universal site-specific public art with purpose and vision that causes us to think or imagine.
Bruce believes in the force of art to empower, inspire, allow transition, see things in new ways, and for those within its space, provide the opportunity for understanding and allow for dreaming. Whatever the work or project this focus is at the core of his curatorial belief, inquiry and practice.