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Guitar-Themed Photography Exhibit Comes to the Weis Center

Image:  Les Paul, Ralph Gibson, 2000, Gelatin Silver Print on Paper. Gift of Douglas Smith, Class of 1984  

The Weis Center for the Performing Arts, in collaboration with the Samek Art Museum at Bucknell University, will host a free guitar-themed photography exhibit now through Friday, June 22, 2018 in its Atrium Lobby. Entitled State of the Axe, the exhibit includes 30 photographs which were drawn from the collection of the Samek Art Museum by photographer Ralph Gibson. The images depict guitar masters and the intimate relationship they have with their instrument.

Richard Rinehart, Samek Art Museum Director and curator of the exhibit, writes in his introduction to the exhibit, “Focusing his lens on musicians who have lent their unmistakable voices to virtually every musical genre—jazz, funk, rock, acoustic, blues, fusion, classical, and experimental—Gibson reveals in each photograph the intense relationship of the player with his beloved ‘axe’.”

Rinehart continues, “State of the Axe features guitarists across several generations, from early jazz greats to hip modern rockers, as they play their widely varied guitars, including traditional six-strings, double necks, ten-strings, and fretless models. Gibson’s images capture the enduring appeal of the instrument and the intense, often rapturous expressions of those who pick, strum, amp, bottleneck, and bow the axe.”

Some of the guitar masters featured in the exhibit include Andy Summers of The Police, David Byrne of Talking Heads fame, Lou Reed of The Velvet Underground, Les Paul, and G.E. Smith of Hall and Oates and former musical director of Saturday Night Live.

The photographs are credited to the following generous donors: Gift of Claudia and John McIntyre, Loan of Anne Merritt ‘82, Gift and Loan of Douglas ‘84 and Ellen Smith.

The exhibit is related to the Weis Center’s 2017-18 season programming which includes an entire day devoted to Martin guitars on Saturday, October 14. The event, Martin Guitar Gathering: A Celebration of the Legacy of C.F. Martin Guitars in American Roots Music, will include facilitated workshops, a community guitar jam, a documentary screening of Ballad of the Dreadnought— A Musical Icon Turns 100 followed by a panel discussion. The Martin Guitar Gathering will also include three performances: blues guitarist Rory Block will perform for free in the Atrium Lobby at 6 p.m., then at 7:30 p.m., Bill and the Belles will open for bluegrass legend Del McCoury and his band in the Weis Center’s auditorium. The Del McCoury Band is the most awarded bluegrass band of all time, including thirty International Bluegrass Music Association Awards and Entertainer of the ​Year nine times. Tickets for the Bill and the Belles/Del McCoury performances go on sale online, over the phone, and in-person on Friday, August 18 at 10 a.m.

The Weis Center’s Atrium Lobby is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. The exhibit is free and takes place primarily on the first floor, with six photographs on the second floor of the Atrium Lobby. The Weis Center ground floor is fully accessible; however there is no elevator to the balcony level.

For more information about the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, go to or search for the Weis Center on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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