December 13, 2007

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Video: Samek Director Dan Mills discusses 'The Jackleg Testament' exhibition.

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Samek Art Gallery at Bucknell University will present an exhibition of Jay Bolotin's The Jackleg Testament: part one – Jack & Eve Jan. 25 through March 30 in the main gallery.

According to Samek Art Gallery director Dan Mills, The Jackleg Testament is two remarkable and interrelated bodies of work.

"It is a portfolio of 40 woodcuts containing all of the visual elements — the subjects, objects, scenery and props — for a 65-minute woodcut motion picture by the same name," said Mills.

"The motion picture, which is included in the portfolio, innovatively combines moving images created from the woodcuts with an operatic play and musical score written by the artist.

"This exhibition marks the recent Samek acquisition of The Jackleg Testament portfolio," said Mills. "It is the first of a three-part series by this prolific artist, writer, composer, performer, stage and set designer, choreographer, and filmmaker."

Creation story re-telling
The Jackleg Testament re-tells the creation stories of Western religion. In Bolotin's version of events, imagination commingles with literary and biblical references. The character of Jack, portrayed by the mannequin inside a jack-in-the-box, lures Eve away from Adam and the Garden of Eden.

Together, they travel to Nobotown where the omnipotent Nobodaddy reigns. Once in Nobotown, Nobodaddy arranges for Jack and Eve to perform in The Theater of the Western Regions – a play within a play, which results in their banishment. Woodcut motion picture voices include opera singers Nigel Robson and Monte Jaffe, vocalist Karin Bergquist (of the band Over the Rhine), and the artist.

The woodcut motion picture premiered at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati in 2005 and has been screened at venues including The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and Pokolenyi Theater, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Two pre-exhibition events
"We are planning two special events the evening before the exhibition opens," said Mills. "Bolotin will give a concert Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. in Trout Auditorium.

"A very versatile artist, Jay is a fine guitar player and vocalist. His vocals are in the same constellation as late Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. He will be joined by Ali Edwards, vocalist of Ruby Vileos, one of the Midwest's top indie bands.

"The woodcut motion picture The Jackleg Testament: part one - Jack & Eve will be premiered following the concert. The movie is truly amazing.

"The difficult-to-imagine visual effects (visit for a few small clips) combined with the story and sound, are remarkable. The film also will be projected on a gallery wall and be on view continuously," Mills said.

Bolotin will be an artist-in-residence at Bucknell, meeting with classes and student groups during the week of Jan. 21. He also will give the lecture, "Concerning the Translation of Visual Imagery -Woodcuts - from one Medium to Another," Saturday, Jan. 26, at 5 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center. The events and the exhibition are free and open to the public. Programming is supported by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Association for the Arts at Bucknell University.

Bolotin's work is in collections including the  Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Australian National Museum and the New York Public Library. He has performed his music across the United States for 30 years. The woodcut motion picture won "Best Animation Award" at the 2007 Santa Fe Film Festival in December. For more information, visit

Two related exhibitions
The exhibition will include several other portfolios and series of closely related woodcuts. Additionally, the portfolio Limbus: the source for a mechanical opera will be on view. "The portfolio is being lent to the Samek by Bertrand Library Special Collections," said Mills. "We are delighted to be presenting both Bolotin portfolios owned by Bucknell University."
In the Study Gallery, Samek Graduate Assistant Aislinn Hyde '07 is curating an exhibition of woodcut concert posters and woodcut blocks. "Bolotin has been performing concerts for decades, and he often makes a woodcut poster for the concerts. A selection of these posters, and also wood blocks made to create selected prints in the exhibition, will be in the 'exhibition within the exhibition' that Aislinn is curating," said Mills.

The Samek Art Gallery is located on the third floor of the Elaine Langone Center. Admission is free. Gallery hours are weekdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; weekends 1 to 5 p.m., and by appointment. The Gallery is accessible by elevator. For more information about the gallery, call 570-577-3792 or see

Jay Bolotin,woodcut from  The Jackleg Testament: part one - Jack and Eve, 2004-05, Samek Art Gallery Permanent Collection


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Posted Dec. 13, 2007