Wolfe painted “Roxbury Portrait” in 1967. It portrays a group of his neighbors near his studio in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. A separate panel, showing the body of a black soldier, refers to the Vietnam War-era police practice of giving young men who were arrested for petty crimes in the predominantly black neighborhood a choice of “Vietnam or jail.” A second separate panel depicts twelve-year-old Joe Bass, whose photograph was portrayed on a 1967 cover of LIFE magazine after he had been caught by stray shotgun pellets as police shot a man for looting in Newark, NJ during days of unrest incited by police brutality. With the inclusion of these figures, the painting alludes to the intersectionality of racial justice and anti-war issues in 1960’s America.
27 Septiembre 1975
Wolfe painted 27 Septiembre in response to the 1975 execution in Spain of five university students by Franco’s regime. The composition of the lower panel recalls Goya’s 3rd of May 1808, a memorial to the Spaniards executed by Napoleon’s troops. As with all of his political work, Wolfe directed 27 Septiembre at an American audience, seeking to raise awareness of the U. S. government’s support for Franco’s regime.