May 4, 2022

“Mastering Alchemy” Exhibit Features Works by Bruce

“MASTERING ALCHEMY”: Works by metal patination artist and educator Stephen Bruce will be on view at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie May 7 through May 29. A Gallery Talk is scheduled for May 21 at 2 p.m.

Metal patination artist and educator Stephen Bruce will have his first major exhibition, Mastering Alchemy,” at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie from May 7 to 29. He will give a Gallery Talk at the museum on Saturday, May 21, at 2 p.m.

The California artist uses different acidic solutions to etch sheets of copper or brass into earth-toned abstract paintings that conjure the power and serenity of water, earth, and sky. Bruce’s seascapes are inspired by aerial views of the oceans. His abstracts evoke the colors and patterns of geological formations. His landscapes capture ineffable moments in a sunset, a sunrise, or on the horizon.

Bruce will offer demonstrations and hands-on workshops in two area public schools, Fisher Middle School in Ewing and Grace Dunn Middle School in Trenton, through his organization the Skidmore Project. Providing all materials at no cost, the Skidmore Project encourages young students to learn how to notice and acknowledge their own creative spirit, showing in practical terms how science and art are accessible, useful, and connected. The May 21 Gallery Talk will include a special showing of students’ works created at Dunn and Fisher Middle Schools, said the show’s curator Deborah Oliver.

“I want kids to understand that each of us has our own unique creative voice,” said Bruce. “I want them to know that exploration and experimentation are lifelong skills that provide possibilities — an avenue into viewing and even improving our world. Such a mindset can help solve some of our toughest problems, while at the same time revealing the unseen beauty that is often just under the surface.”

Metal patination, the practice of etching images with acidic liquids, is centuries old. While patinas on metal can be created by painting with flame or using hot or cold solutions, Bruce’s method is cold patinas. He sprays, brushes, dips, or sponges an acid solution on the metal and allows it to slowly react. His acids are common household varieties such as pickle juice, hot sauce, salad dressing, and vinegars.

Bruce’s artwork can be seen on the sets of many television shows and movies, including House, Law & Order, Criminal Minds, Californication, The Big Bang Theory, Last Man Standing, The American Housewife, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Endgame, Horrible Bosses, and The Social Network.

The exhibition and other programming at the Trenton City Museum can be viewed Fridays and Saturdays from 12 to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Parking is available adjacent to the museum in Trenton’s Cadwalader Park, entered from Parkside Avenue. There is no admission charge, but donations in support of the museum’s mission and programs are appreciated. Visit for more information.