Discovering Ellis Ruley
Born in 1882 in Norwich, Connecticut, the son of a run-away slave, Ellis worked as a day laborer mason, until a fateful automobile accident in 1930. The jury awarded a verdict of $12,500 damages, quite a sum during the height of the Great Drepression. This afforded Ellis to purchase a 1700's rual shack up on Foxhill, buy a new Chevy convertable coupe with a rumble seat, marry a white woman and take up paintin'. He painted scantily clad white girls with common house paint on posterboard, upsetting many of the town's white community.
When his wife finally left him at age 79, primarily because of taunts on the street and early morning rock throwing at the home, his body was found frozen, badly beaten with a single skull fracture, left temple. His son-in-law was found upside down in the family's well with three drepressed skull fractures, left temple and and the house was burned to the ground. At the time, authorities ruled Ellis' death as a heart attack, the son-in-law's an accidental drowning and the house burning spontanious combustion. His paintings never fetched more than $15.00 each in his lifetime, while today many are included in the nation's top museums and private collections. This is a doc film earmarked for PBS, 2016, Black History Month. For more info, visit: www.EllisRuley.com