César Chelala: Caminito Series

The Grady Alexis Gallery invites you to a TANGO NIGHT on Saturday December 4 at 7pm, with photographs by César Chelala from his "Caminito Series" and tango music with the world premiere of the tango "Renaceras". Performance by Los Chantas: Emilio Teubal on piano, David Hodges on bandoneon and Sergio Reyes on violin. Guest artist: Luis Yanes on guitar. Special participation of Luli De Oto on "Renaceras". 

For those of us who have never been there, it is hard to imagine the sight and feeling of encountering the colorful urban-scape of the little street in Buenos Aires, called Caminito, for the first time. Buenos Aires is a city filled with beautiful architecture, yet aside from the proliferation of green from the many plazas in the city, the general feeling is the austerity of gray of stonework. 

Dr. Chelala has written that in the part of Buenos Aires near the docks, called La Boca, the Italian immigrants who lived there used the paint left over from the ships for painting the exterior of their homes. This has had the effect of giving the neighborhood a particularly unique character: a splash of intense color in this otherwise sober looking city. Dr. Chelala goes on to explain: "Caminito (little road), the name of one of Argentina's best known tangos, is also the name of two street blocks in Argentina. One, located in La Boca, honors the composer of the music of Caminito, Juan de Dios Filiberto. The other block is a little town road in the province of La Rioja, and honors the author of the tango lyrics, Gabino Coria Peñaloza. Although the block in La Rioja is believed by some to be the origin of the tango's name, most people now identify Caminito with the street in Buenos Aires. Although it was not much appreciated at the beginning, Caminito went to become one of the most popular tangos of all time. And most Argentines can repeat by heart the beginning of the tango's lyrics:

Caminito that time has erased
and that one day saw us passing by
I came for the last time
I came to tell you my woes

(Caminito que el tiempo ha borrado)
(que juntos un día nos viste pasar)
(he venido por última vez)
(he venido a contarte mi mal)."


Dr. Chelala was born in Argentina, and emigrated to the United States, where he has been living since 1971. In Buenos Aires, he worked as a medical researcher at the laboratory of Dr. Luis F. Leloir, a Nobel laureate for his work in biochemistry and medicine. Dr. Chelala also worked as a researcher at The Public Health Research Institute of the City of New York and at New York University School of Medicine. For the last 22 years he has been an international medical consultant for several international organizations, among them several agencies of the United Nations. His work consists in the monitoring and evaluation of health projects in developing countries. He has conducted health-related missions in over 45 countries worldwide in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Dr. César Chelala has amply documented through photography his experiences of his travels around the world. 

The Caminito Series has been shown at the Monique Goldstrom Gallery in Soho, New York, and the Martinez Gallery in Troy (New York), Embassy of Argentina in Washington, D.C and the Queensborough Community College Art Gallery in New York. 

In 1989, he had a one-man show of his photographs from Africa at The College of New Rochelle, School of New Resources, to celebrate Black History Month. In 1991, he won First Prize in a photography contest organized by the Women, Health and Development division of the Pan American Health Organization in Washington, D.C. His photographs have been published in Aljadid, The Neue Zürcher Zeitung, The Lancet, POPULI, The Boston Globe, Women's Health Journal, and The Harvard International Review, as well as in several official publications of the United Nations. Chelala's photographs are in embassy, corporate, museum, and private collections.