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The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert, at DOXA

Patty Osborne

The movie All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert introduces us to the life and art of Winfred Rembert, a black American artist who is at least as inspiring as his art is gorgeous.

In 1995, Rembert began tooling scenes from his life on large pieces of leather and then painting these scenes with dye, a technique he learned while serving a 27-year sentence for taking part in a civil rights protest in the American south in the 60s. Because he was a model prisoner he got out after seven years (most of which was spent on a chain gang) and he married the strong and beautiful Patsy. Together they raised eight children, often in abject poverty but always with room in their home and in their hearts for the stray or runaway children they encountered along the way.

Rembert's paintings depict the places and people from his childhood in Cuthbert, Georgia, including "colored people's corner," Homer Clyde's Cafe, Miss Prather the teacher, the chain gang (which he describes as being "slaves of the state"), a lynching (including seven graves: six for the victims and one for humanity), the pool player Raincoat Red and the cotton fields where Rempert worked alongside his cousin and the great aunt who raised them both. Rembert's stories of his life include so many bad times that it's a miracle he's not a bitter and twisted man. Determined yes, but bitter, no.

Rembert is 65 years old now and his paintings are sought after, but one of his greatest triumphs was to attend the opening of a show of his work in his old hometown, where, as a boy, he had been told by Mr. Wilson (who owned the Wilson Brothers Store, also depicted in the paintings) that "he ain’t gonna be worth a damn."

All of Me won't be screened again at DOXA but watch for it elsewhere—it's a great movie about a great man who makes great art.

Here are some links with more info about Rembert and his art:

http://www.folkart.org/mag/winfred-rembert

http://www.allmethemovie.com/clips.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terence-clarke/the-art-of-winfred-rember_b_899827.html

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