Summary: ‘Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts’ brings to life a man what persons made his mark around on time


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If every flick tells a story, the body of careers displayed in the hauntingly exciting documentary “Bill Traylor: Running after Ghosts” speaks volumes on the service life and times of the musician in question.

Was into slavery in 1853, the rural Alabama sharecropper would not officially pick up a pencil and piece of scrap card until he was 85, but nevertheless , he would nevertheless amass the new portfolio of more than 1, 1000 drawings and paintings communicate next several years.

Taken individually, the jackets may appear deceptively simple — primitive images of beasts, structures and couples many times arguing or carousing — but together, the arrangement share a folkloric decent, with Traylor’s personal joints to slavery, Reconstruction, Sean Crow segregation and the Fine Migration filtered into significantly abstract canvas.


Using that tradition of iconographic Black Southern storytelling, filmmaker Jeffrey Wolf incorporates spoken-word performances of passages by means of Langston Barnes and Zora Neale Hurston as well as interpretative tap dance by Jer Samuels Smith to demonstrate Traylor’s journey.

There’s also astute comment from fellow artists, historians, critics and surviving kinfolk who help to fill in the main blanks between Traylor’s murder in 1949 and the works of art world’s embrace of the man’s work, starting in the late 1971s.

But this masturbation sleeve is the pieces themselves, a great number of which were done on the shells of old cardboard evidences, with Traylor incorporating the earlier smudges, rips and even staples into his visual remembrances, which lend those ghosts of his past another persistent, ethereal relevance.

‘Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts’

Probably not rated

Running Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Playing: Starts April 16, Laemmle NoHo 7, North Popular; and in limited release wherein theaters are open; plus Laemmle Computer Cinema