Gallery Talk w/ Robert Katz

Gallery Talk w/ Robert Katz

CEO of T.W. Dick Steel Co. Mrs. Myrtle Willey and Curator Robert Katz at Sasson Soffer exhibit, UMA, 1983; Photo by Bruce Armstrong © Sasson Soffer Foundation

On Friday, April 27 at 6:30pm, The public is invited to attend a gallery talk with University of Maine at Augusta professor Robert Katz on artist Sasson Soffer and his work. The talk will highlight Katz’ personal experiences working with Soffer to curate a major outdoor exhibition of his sculptures at UMA in 1983. The talk will also include slides and video.

During the talk, visitors can view Sasson Soffer: Monumental Dream, an exhibition of Soffer’s paintings, sculptures and works on paper. The exhibit is on view through April 28 at the Harlow, at 100 Water Street in Hallowell. Hours are Wednesday – Saturday 12-6pm and Sunday 12-4pm. 

About Soffer: (b. 1925 Baghdad, Iraq – d. 2009, New York, NY) Soffer was an Iraqi Arab of Jewish descent. Soffer was compelled to leave Iraq during the events surrounding the creation of the State of Israel, post–World War II. In 1948 Soffer went into hiding, ultimately escaping to Iran, then to the United States via Israel. 

Between 1950 – 1954, Soffer was enrolled at CUNY Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York. There he studied under various artists including Ad Reinhardt, Burgoyne Diller and Mark Rothko. Rothko would eventually become a lifelong friend and mentor. Soffer dedicated the early part of his career to abstract painting. He had his first solo exhibit in 1958 at the Artist’s Gallery in New York City. He was also featured in Art in America’s New Talent Issue in 1962.

In 1956, Soffer was invited to visit Maine by a group of early Skowhegan artists, among them the sculptor Bernard Langlais, with whom he became good friends. Soffer came to enjoy his time in Maine and purchased property in Somerville as a summer home. The Somerville house turned out to have a leaning chimney and when Soffer went to steel fabricator T.W. Dick Co. in Gardiner, Maine to inquire about a metal brace, owner Ralph Dick suggested that since Soffer was an artist he should try to make the brace himself. Ralph Dick died in 1968 and Myrtle Willey took over the mill. From 1968 to 1976, Mrs. Willey served as Executive Vice President of T.W. Dick Co. and, in 1976, became President. 

It was at T.W. Dick Co., where Soffer was introduced to welding and steel fabrication. For over 30 years Soffer collaborated with T.W. Dick Co. in the production of his large scale sculptures. For Soffer, Myrtle Willey represented continuity and continued opportunity. In 1983, the University of Maine at Augusta staged Soffer’s exhibition of monumental outdoor steel sculptures, which was organized by Robert Katz who is currently Professor of Art in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Maine at Augusta.

For more information about Sasson Soffer visit: http://harlowgallery.org/sasson-soffer-monumental-dream/ or Soffer.org.

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