Soteris Sam Roussi

Born in February 1945, Soteris (Sam) enjoyed a diverse, indulged childhood. His Greek immigrant father, a chocolatier, owned a cafe, “The Unique Chocolate Shoppe,” located just four blocks from Niagara Falls. Soteris and his family lived at the Falls until his father’s death. He was ten years old at the time.

In 1967 Soteris earned a BFA in painting from the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) and a MFA in painting from Ohio University in 1969. His painterly semi-abstract images, conjured references to pop artists like Wayne Thiebaud. Soteris exhibited extensively throughout the East Coast, receiving numerous awards including a Fellowship for Drawing from the Massachusetts Endowment for the Arts and Humanities in 1977. Shortly after receiving the award, Soteris joined the art department at Atlanta’s Georgia State University. 

In the late ’70’s Soteris began experimenting with acrylics mixed with powdered pigment. These large canvases reflected the influence of Diebenkorn. In 1979, he was  chosen for the prestigious invitational show at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, Seven Artists in Georgia. While living in Atlanta, he was represented at the Fay Gold gallery.

In the mid-‘80s, Soteris found artistic inspiration from an illustration in Webster’s dictionary depicting hobo iconography, which inspired a series of of work, “Hobo Icons.” This moved his imagery firmly into the style of abstraction that carries through to his present work.  During the ’90’s, he continued to exhibit in Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Houston. The weak economy made it difficult to maintain art sales. By necessity, Sam turned to finish carpentry for income.

For next twenty-five years he focused on providing for his children. Soteris’ daughter, a photographer, and Marlboro College graduate, wrote, “Our white Victorian house has evolved with us. As a result, I have grown up inside a work of art… ” Never having relinquished his studio, Soteris continued to develop a unique vocabulary of marks, playing with rich form and symbolic references that, as players on the painting’s surface, participated in contentious visual debates.

Now retired, Soteris focuses his energy in his studio and perennial gardens. His current paintings are acrylic and powdered pigment on tapestry-style unstretched canvas or on museum board. The paintings are brash, audacious and uncompromising. His gardens are equally complex, accentuated with found art ‘dangles’, brass bells and two gargantuan wind chimes.

© Soteris Sam Roussi, 2017