Solway Gallery announces the passing of Jay Bolotin

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Solway Gallery announces the passing of Jay Bolotin
Photograph of Jay in the Eastman Studio during his Macdowell Fellowship in 1976.

CINCINNATI, OH.- Solway Gallery announced the passing of Jay Bolotin; father, artist, composer, songwriter, filmmaker, and life-long friend to so many. Despite navigating a long illness, Jay worked passionately up until his death on May 14, 2024. Jay was seventy-five years old.

Jay is survived by his son Ezra Bolotin, and Ezra's fiancée, Ally Orosco of Seattle, his daughter Simone Bolotin and son-in-law Colin Malone along with grandchildren, Harrison Malone (age 9) and Georgiana Malone (age 6), of New York, and sister Susan Bolotin of Lexington KY. A memorial for Jay will be announced in the near future on social media.

Jay Bolotin, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was born 1949 in Fayette County, Kentucky. He was a prolific artist who worked across an expansive range of mediums — making drawings, prints, sculptures, designing sets, composing songs, and creating works in theatre and film. While growing up on a farm in rural Kentucky, Bolotin immersed himself in music and storytelling and made sculptures from fallen trees. Later he studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design and became an apprentice to the late sculptor Robert Lamb. However, while concentrating on his study of fine art, he never abandoned his interest in literature, especially biblical stories and those by the Grimm Brothers and William Blake, all of which have inspired his art. During the 1970s, Bolotin also pursued his love of music while working as a songwriter in Nashville. An accomplished musician, he has worked and performed with artists who include Merle Haggard, Dan Fogelberg, Kris Kristofferson, and Porter Wagoner, and on occasion continued to perform in the U.S. and abroad.

In Jay’s eloquent words…

I grew up on a large working farm in Kentucky. My Aunt in Chicago took me to the Chicago Art Institute when I was a child - I saw the drawings of Giacometti that seem to transcend the bounding lines of objects and people. I tried to make similar drawings at my aunt’s house that night. She told me there are people who do that called artists. Giacometti’s drawings seemed affirmation that there is a dense nature to the world, beyond the bounding line, even if we cannot see it….

...Novelist Hannah Green and artist John Wesley introduced me to the gallery owner Carl Solway in New York. He also had a gallery in Cincinnati. He would drive the two hours to where I lived in Kentucky and camp out and we spoke of life and art. In three years, I had my first show at his gallery in Cincinnati. It was Carl who suggested I make prints. I asked why. He said that my drawings take so long - I should try to cut a drawing in wood and make a print, adding “And that way, you’ll have more than one.”

Jay Bolotin has had solo shows at institutions including the Samek Art Gallery, Bucknell University; Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati; Joslyn Art Center, Omaha; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Vanderbilt University, Nashville. His woodcut prints and sculpture are included in numerous public and private collections including Australian National Museum; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; Georgia Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego; Smith College Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; New York Public Library; Seattle Art Museum; Cincinnati Art Museum and the University of Kentucky Art Museum. His award-winning films have been shown at art venues and film festivals in the United States and abroad.

In 2018, Delmore Recording Society released Jay Bolotin’s “No One Seems To Notice That It’s Raining,” a compilation of Jay’s previously unreleased music from the 1970s. These are the songs which caught the ear of Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury, David Allan Coe, Merle Haggard, Dan Fogelberg.

Jay Bolotin: The Jackleg Testament, Part 2: The Book of Only Enoch, will be on view at the University of Kentucky Art Museum, from January 17th-May 31st, 2025. It includes numerous drawings, prints, constructed sets and sculptures, and related ephemera that have been used to create Bolotin’s most recent animated film. The final chapter of an epic body of work spanning over 20 years, The Book of Only Enoch is the culmination of his extraordinary vision. Additional works will provide insight into the artist’s influences and unconventional working methods.

Jay’s unwavering devotion to his work, his family, and his friends was legendary, and he will be deeply missed.

Contributions made in honor of Jay Bolotin to the following institutions: University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, Weston Art Gallery, Cincinnati, Cincinnati Art Museum, Print Department, and Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, and Carnegie Arts Center, Covington, KY.

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