New York (UCTP Taíno News) – Taíno artist Joe “Doc Sunshine” Leon crossed over into koaibei (the Spirit World) peacefully on Friday, April 4th at 3:24 pm at Franklin Hospital in New York. Leon was well known and respected in the NY Native Community; often donating his time and selected artworks for Pow Wows and special events. He studied at New York University, the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League. He successfully pursued a career as an award winning commercial artist for over 30 years. Leon’s works varied in media, from fine arts to digital techniques; which he felt were ways to “expresses the strength and spirit of ‘The People’." Most recently, Leon donated a series of artworks to the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) for exclusive use as fund raising tools. He felt strongly that his life was enriched by his indigenous cultural experiences and that “he must return this gift”.
A registered tribal-member with the UCTP, Leon was long associated with organizations such as the Paumanauke Pow Wow Festival Committee and the Presencia Taina Cultural Arts Organization. Leon received his Taino name “Weihibo” in a ceremony led by community elder and long-time friend Vanessa Inarunikia Pastrana. He is survived by his wife Stacey. A memorial service in his honor is now being planned.