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Birth of the Sun and Batey

Birth of the Sun", a film by Thomas W. Campbell about the artist Grady Alexis, will show at El Taller on Friday Evening, June 20.

Grady Alexis lived at El Taller Latino Americano from 1986 until his death in 1991. He created art with a colorful and creative group of people and was a part of numerous art "scenes" on the lower east side. In the film a number of people who were close to Grady look back on their relationship with him. Bernardo Palombo and his sons Demian and Ira considered Grady to be part of their family. Grady collaborated with Thom Corn on large-scale work, before and after they were part of an art group called "The Maroons". Hamlet Zurita, painter, was another friend of Grady, collaborating with artists associated with the Mars Bar on East 2nd Street. Lori Leistyna was his girlfriend in 1990-1991 when he began to intensify his art output while facing some difficult personal issues.

The film documents the recreation of a signature work by Grady, the mural called "Birth of the Sun". The collective painting of Grady's work, which hung at El Taller for many years, is a central act of the story, establishing a physical link between the past and present. Artists who knew Grady, and others who learned of him, brought their talents to the recreation. Among those who participated are Andrea Arroyo, Thom Corn, Jeff Schlanger, Angelo Romano, Demian Palombo, Hamlet Zurita, Laura Gilbert, Ricardo Pliego, Bernardo Palombo, and Marc Romero. The mural will now become part of the permanent collection of art at El Taller.

The musical soundtrack was created by guitarist and songwriter Demian Palombo, who called on his memories and experiences with Grady to compose and perform a complex and haunting series of original music. Much of the soundtrack was recorded at present-day El Taller, in both multi-track and live sessions. Other musicians who's work appears in the film include Quiqie Sinesi, Bernardo Palombo, Jose Valdez, Mike Campani, Gilberto Mendoza and Victor Hernandez.

"Birth of the Sun" is 27 minutes in duration and was written and directed by Thomas W. Campbell and shot by Emmanuel Alexandre jr.

Also screening will be "Welcome to Batey 6", a 22 minute documentary written and directed by Emmanuel Alexandre jr. and shot by Kemah Keita-Diouf. The film offers an intimate look into the lives of Haitian sugarcane cutters and the effects on their families and the local culture. Exploring life in a Dominican Batey (a sugar can town), the story follows two men who live there. Emelio has recently come from Haiti with his wife and children to find a way to support his family. The work is difficult, the pay is small, and the money proves difficult to collect. Titonton can trace his family back over 100 years and has lived on the Batey longer than most. He is the unofficial mayor and has a level of authority that Emelio can only dream about. Their lives intertwine in Batey 6, revealing the different realities of what it is like to live and to work in the sugar cane economy on the island.

Refreshments will be served and there will be time to talk and socialize before and after the screenings.

For more information about "Birth of the Sun" go to:

Earlier Event: June 7
Sol and Friends Night of Flamenco
Later Event: June 21
Alberto Rojo