Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #58

June 26th, 2008  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report


by Kay Bourne
(click on Townsend’s image to visit the Black Family Channel’s website)

511 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #58“Getting there isn’t half the fun, it’s all the fun,” says indie filmmaker and entrepreneur ROBERT TOWNSEND, whose joy in his work is his personal hallmark.

Townsend is one of the special guests slated for the up-coming ROXBURY FILM FESTIVAL, this year commemorating its 10th anniversary as a festival celebrating film makers of color.

Townsend stars in the opening night film, “OF BOYS AND MEN” alongside ANGELA BASSETT, FAIZON LOVE, and Boston daughter VICTORIA ROWELL.

Directed by CARL SEATON, the feature is told through the eyes of the youngest child in a family overcoming the loss of a parent. Townsend will attend the opening night reception on July 30 at the Roxbury Center for the Arts. He will also appear at the opening night film screening on JULY 31 at the Museum of Fine Arts. Tickets for the festival go on sale JULY 14.

An icon to young filmmakers since the days of his ground-breaking comedy “Hollywood Shuffle” (1987), the slightly built Townsend is a sort of Clark Kent with a phone booth at the ready. “Hollywood Shuffle” fearlessly jabbed at the big studios for the stereotypical roles they insisted Black actors portray – and even more heartening to the other filmmakers out there without a bank roll, the movie had been funded by Townsend’s maxing out his credit cards in a bet that paid off big time. Clearly, risk taking has been worth it for Townsend.

For the past four years, Townsend has been president and CEO of TV’s Black Family Channel, on what had been MBC founded in 1999. Townsend told this writer in a recent phone interview the channel had been bought out by the Gospel Music Channel after Townsend’s programming had garnered some 16 million subscribers into the fold. Black Family Channel may go broadband at a future date. But as Townsend looks back, the satisfactions were pushing the creative limits to produce “eighteen to twenty different TV series. We’d finish a batch. Take a breath. Whew! Then shoot a movie.”

Despite the pressure, Townsend said he only experienced “little stresses. When you love what you’re doing it’s not overwhelming.”

So, it’s back to Hollywood. “I like creating in Hollywood,” says Townsend whose next projects include a documentary about African American comedians which he intends to complete in time to catch a plane to Boston.

“Why We Laugh” will go back in history to the days of the vaudeville with Bert Williams and come up to the present time. “From Chris Rock to Bill Cosby,” summarizes Townsend. Next project on the burner is writing a modern day version of The Little Rascals.

“The value of being an entrepreneur is that you get to create and build something,” muses Townsend. “It’s the most incredible feeling to have an idea and give birth to a film and have people come to see it.

“Being an entrepreneur is having the spirit that trusts that anything’s possible if you put your mind to it.”

10th Roxbury Film Festival website

by Kay Bourne
512 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #58From a few dollars to many, many thousands of dollars, TONYA CAMERON determines the price of an item with the words, “once, twice, sold!”

A licensed auctioneer who specializes in vintage pieces, antiques, and fine arts and the principal owner of an antique co-op and auction house, THE ANTIQUE CO-OP in Malden, Massachusetts, the personable business woman says she “fell into” her interest in collectibles as a small child.

Her first such possessions were children’s tea cups and saucers gathered as she traveled the back roads of Virginia with her grandfather who brought her up. A chef whose professional success enabled them to live in the elite, planned community of Reston-Herndon, he abhorred waste.

“People threw away all kinds of goods. Left them on the sidewalk to be carted away. ‘That’s so wasteful!’ he’d say and pick up the chair or what-ever, take it home and repair it. I was embarrassed. ‘Oh, grandpa, people will think we’re poor.’ I’d say.”

“‘Oh, don’t’ worry about it,’ he’d reply. People are wasteful. He was pro-active and ahead of the pro-ecology curve. We’d go to flea markets and buy things people were discarding in favor of the latest trend. We didn’t know anything about antiques. We bought what we liked. And I started loving the things and appreciating them.”

Cameron’s first career was in the beauty business in Washington, D.C. A consultant for Revlon, she owned two hair salons and was the stylist for such events as the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Fashion Show and Ladies Lunch and the Lee Elder Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament where in addition to adult celebs such as Bob and Delores Hope, “two of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Cameron also met up with some child athletes who’d grow up to dominate their sports, Tiger Woods and Serena and Venus Williams.

Married at that time, although since divorced, Cameron came to the Boston area with her husband, who was an executive with the Wallace International Silver Company. “I was sitting at the kitchen table one day and I told my husband, I don’t want to do hair any more.” By chance her eyes fell on an ad for someone to do inventory control at the prestigious antiques dealer Skinner’s Boston gallery. “I applied and to my surprise, I got the job!” So for the next year and a half she inventoried the items that were consigned for auction and performed the other duties associated with the flow of antiques into Skinner’s. “It was thrilling being around these beautiful and fabulous things,” she said.

Then she felt the entrepreneurial urge again. “Being an entrepreneur for so many years, you get used to working for yourself. I felt the calling again.”

She had been frequenting the antiques co-op and the auctions at the Malden site, at that time owned by David Noonan, Sr. and David Noonan, Jr. (now partners with Cameron). “You know what?” she told David, Sr. “I can do this.”

Cameron recalls with a smile, “He said. ‘O.K. and he gave me a jar of quarters and half dollars he had on his desk, which, when I added them up, came to seven hundred dollars.” She raised the remaining cost for a course at the Yankee School of Auctioneering in Somersworth, New Hampshire ($1195.00), and completing the 80-hour auction school, became a bona fide auctioneer.

The business hasn’t seen very many African Americans or for that matter very many woman.

“I get a referral from a bank to handle the estate items,” says Cameron, “and when I show up at the door, people may ask quizzically ‘May I help you?’ I tell them I’ve from the bank, and while they expected a middle aged white person, they say, ‘oh´ and that’s all. What I find more so an impediment is being a woman in a male dominated business.”

Cameron adds that woman have an edge, even so, because “they tend to be gentler” in their approach to someone thinking of making a consignment to an auction house. “I would never go into a drawer in a person’s house without saying please; men bombard the premises.”

She thanks her mentor in the business, Adele Mason, for getting her underway with developing the high end consignments she gets. “90 per cent of your business success relies on people being able to trust you. It’s a business where the market changes constantly and people have to feel comfortable that you’ll take care of their things. They have to trust that they’ll get paid, and that you’ll treat them well.”

Cameron conducts the medium to high end Thursday night antique auctions in Malden, while Noonan oversees the Saturday morning auctions which include medium and general antiques and stands in for Cameron on Thursday night to give her a break now and again during the evening. Her company, TAC Auctioneers, handles anywhere from four to ten estates at one time which have been directed to it by banks, attorneys, and antique dealers. “I like to keep an auction small, so items can shine,” she said.

Cameron says the thrill for her is when a piece takes off, such as a book on the Titanic at last Thursday’s auction. It hammered out at $2,300 plus the 15 per cent for the house, a height in price she hadn’t expected. The $2300 goes to the consigner while the house fee pays for the staff and other expenses. “You never know. Every auction is different,” she says.

She says her fear is “the next generation is not educated enough about art and antiques. They don’t want grandma’s stuff. They want the retro items.”

“What troubles me,” she said, “is the beautifully made silver pieces they scrap for the money. A tea set embossed and engraved, they melt it down for the cash value of the silver.”

The Antique Co-op & Auction House website

by Kay Bourne
513 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #58Most students working on a master’s in business administration head for Wall Street or the corporate world to hone their expertise.

Not VERONICA NICOLE CHAPMAN. Currently in her second year at Babson College as a candidate for an MBA, the young entrepreneur has brought her skills to the Black community as founder and CEO of BOXXOUT ENTERPRISES. As you might guess, her company’s name refers to her belief in thinking outside the box.

An author and playwright to boot, Chapman is combining her artistic side with her business acumen to put on an original play she hopes will galvanize teens to strive for more positive goals than the streets offer.

Chapman’s “ANCESTORS, INC.” with its motivational message has four performances this weekend: Friday, JUNE 27, at 7pm, two shows Saturday, JUNE 28 at 2 and 7pm, and Sunday, JUNE 29, at 3 in the afternoon. All performances are at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street, two short blocks from the Dudley bus terminal. Tickets range in price from $20 to $8 and are available at the door and on-line, and suggested for ages 13 and up, families and youth organizations encouraged to attend.

The story-line follows the adventures of a teenager, Quincy Williams, who is lured by the false promises of the fast life. His mother is beside herself with worry, but doesn’t know where to turn to get the guidance her son so desperately needs. Intervention comes with a visit from the ancestors who encourage Quincy to live up to his potential in honor of their sacrifices in the past.

An outstanding cast of polished actors includes Kaili Turner as Quincy’s mom, Michael Nurse, and Dosha Beard. The role of Quincy is portrayed by 16-year-old Emanuel Riggins, a student at B.C. High and a member of St. John’s Missionary Church in Roxbury. There will be talk-backs with the cast and playwright on the themes presented in the drama following all the performances.

The play script “Ancestors, Inc.” which is self published by Chapman, is available at Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Chapman is also the author of “The Advent of Planet Martyr, an Innovative Social Commentary,” which is available at Amazon.com.

A graduate of Spelman College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, Chapman is also working part-time this summer developing curriculum for elementary school age children in the areas of Spanish, goal setting, and music with a positive message.

Ancestors Inc. ticket information

by Kay Bourne
GENERATION EXCEL‘s hands-on director NICKY MAIS NESBETH sees herself and her co-workers as entrepreneurs. “We’re in the business,” she says of the after school program, “to create better young people who are more functional and who can contribute to their society.” The program’s youth are largely referrals from the Department of Youth Services and counselors from various Boston public schools.

As an example of the activities the program fosters, Nesbeth noted that the youth raised $600 for a children’s school in Darfur. “This kind of community service allows them to see that they are not powerless but can make a positive difference in the world. They sold t-shirts at $10 and washed cars at $5 to raise the money. That stands for a lot of effort,” she said.

“It’s not enough for them to get the services and support they need but in return they’ll give something back.”

The 6th annual appreciation ceremony last Thursday, June 19, in the Our Place Theatre space that brought to a close this year’s program held many examples of the truth of Generation Excel’s motto: “Helping Youth Excel Towards A Brighter Future.” In one instance, the room of teens and staff gave a rousing round of applause to one of the girls who after many years with the program will be attending college in the fall. Another college bound Generation Excel graduate who assisted with the program’s business development program has also won an athletic scholarship.

The program’s executive director Pastor Ray Hammond noted that 2007 saw some 582 youth engaged in Generation Excel programs through counseling, academic support, dance and theater education, and community service opportunities. The program partnered with the Topf Dance Center and the Tony Williams Dance Center (home of Ballet Rox) among many organizations providing expertise for activities.

Generation Excel website

by Josiah Crowley © 2008
(photo: WireImage)

514 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #58A completely silly movie (it IS, after all, GET SMART), this latest Steve Carell film is the perfect anecdote to a hot summer afternoon. A great escape and terrific entertainment. True, it’s not as good as the classic Mel Brooks-created sit-com of the 1960′s, but it’s a success in its own right.

Comic Steve Carell makes a bold choice (that works). Instead of imitating Don Adams‘ classic performance, he chooses to play the bumbling, inept spy Maxwell Smart, straight. It’s a role that could have easily been played a lot broader.

Also scoring high marks are Anne Hathaway as Agent 99: sly, sexy and a whole lot smarter than her work partner, Agent 99 is well remembered from Barbara Feldon‘s sly work. Hathaway is good – her physical comedy a surprise delightful – in this film. Alan Arkin, as Chief, gets the film’s best line and, after 40 plus years in films, delivers another terrific performance. As Agent 23, Dwayne Johnson (formerly known as The Rock) again displays his strong comic abilities.

Great movie? No, but, if wonderful, fun entertainment for a summer evening is what you’re looking for – go to your local theater and GET SMART!

Get Smart official movie website

(portions reprinted by permission of Phil Hart) (Maurice Starr (left) and New Edition. photo credit: Lester Cohen/Wireimage.com)
516 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #58ASCAP honored Roxbury‘s own NEW EDITION June 23 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel at the The 21st annual ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Music Awards. MAURICE STARR presented the group he launched 25 years ago out of Roxbury’s Orchard Park their coveted ASCAP Golden Note Award as recognition of their contributions to the genre, starting back in 1983 with the “Candy Girl” album. TANYA HART, was there, sitting with Maurice. Hart showcased New Edition for the very first time on her WBZ-TV program. These former Roxbury residents – from the five original New Edition members to Maurice and Tanya – all made this prestigious ASCAP event feel like old times back in the ‘Bury.

ASCAP Golden Note Award website

515 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #58The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) partners with Berklee College of Music to present a free summer concert series: HARBORWALK SOUNDS, which showcases some of the best new talent Berklee has to offer. JUNE 26 features ZILI MISIK, from 6 – 8:30 p.m. Admission to both the concert and the ICA is free on Target Free Thursdays. For information, click on the picture to the left or call (617) 478-3100.

The 2nd Annual UNITED FOR ELDERS EXPO 2008 on Friday JUNE 28 9am-5pm at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont Street, Roxbury, is free and open tothe public and features exhibits, health screenings, demonstrations, workshops and music throughout the day. To register call Natalie Lewis 617-277-7416 x330 or click here.

BERKLEE COLLEGE presents An Evening with LIZZ WRIGHT on Friday, JUNE 27 at 8pm, at Cafe 939, 939 Boylston Street, Boston. Lizz Wright is one of the jazz world’s most celebrated rising stars, as an accomplished songwriter and a versatile, deeply expressive singer. Wright is an effortlessly magnetic performer, delivering subtly persuasive vocal performances in jazz/R&B settings. This event is standing room only. Tickets are $20, click here.

Boston’s Annual PUERTO RICAN FESTIVAL is JUNE 27-29 in Franklin Park, noon – 10pm each night. Festival music, carnival rides, food, and vendors on the Playstead ballfields between the Stadium and the Zoo. Parade on Sunday at noon from New Dudley Street in Roxbury, past Reggie Lewis, along Columbus Avenue to Seaver Street, to Walnut Avenue and arriving in the park at White Stadium. Roads closed from 10-2pm. For more information call 617-210-5547.

e1live presents THE FRIDAY COMEDY TOUR, hosted by Jonathan Gates and Derick Blackwell, on Friday, JUNE 27 at Club Night Games inside the Holiday Inn, 30 Washington Street, Somerville. Doors open at 8pm, showtime 9pm featuring comedians: AJ JOHNSON from Friday, MICHAEL BLACKSTON from Next Friday, Boston’s JUST AL, and SHAWTY SHAWTY. Tickets available in advance at $25 at MOD, Studio 24, and all Hip Zepi locations or at the door for $30.

Sunday, JUNE 29 e1live and friends invite you to experience the ABSOLUTE LIZ event, a special 28th birthday celebration for the fashion forward sophisticated socialite, Liz Miranda, at The Blue Wave, 343 Congress Street, Boston with music by DJ Chubby Chub and DJ Dru from 10pm – 2am. For info call 617-543-7080. Proper dress A MUST. Any combination of red, black and white attire required. $15 proceeds to benefit Papa’s Piggybank, a charitable initiative focused on Cape Verdean youth.

The Franklin Park Tennis Association offers free tennis lessons every Saturday from jUNE 28 to SEPTEMBER 13 at the Shattuck Grove courts on the Shattuck Hospital side of Franklin Park. Children’s lessons are noon – 1:30pm and adults’ 1:30 – 3pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays 9 – 11am. For info, call 617-374-0655 or click here.

The Roxbury Media Institute & The Haley House Bakery Cafe invite you to ‘aRt IS LiFe iTSELF! A Performance Series: Embracing Art, Culture & Spirituality’ a Multicultural, Intergenerational, Humanistic experience, every Thursday night, serving tapas starting approximately 7pm at The Haley House Bakery Cafe, 12 Dade Street, Roxbury, near Dudley station. Call 617-445-0900 for details on who’s performing each week.

AT HOME IN UTOPIA screenings at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts: A new film that traces the fascinating history of the United Workers Cooperative Colony-a.k.a. “The Coops”-one of four cooperative apartments built in the Bronx in the 1920′s by visionary Jewish garment workers. A portrait of secular Jewish values, Black-Jewish integration, Communists and immigrants catapulting out of tenement life, Michal Goldman‘s documentary is a must-see. Dates/times: July 3, 6:30pm with Jeff Crosby, President, IUE-CWA Local 201; July 6, 2:15pm.

FULANI HAYNES will celebrate her birthday alongside her quintet and all who attend, Thursday, JUNE 26, 8:30 – 12:30 at Ryles Jazz Club, 212 Hampshire Street, Cambridge. Tickets are $10, available at the door. For information call 617-876-9330.

ZAP MAMA performs Saturday, JUNE 28 at The Paradise, 967 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston. ZAP MAMA is a phenominal, female a cappella world-music band founded by Zaire native Marie Daulne, whose father was killed during the 1960 revolution while her mother was pregnant with her. Her family fled and found refuge with a tribe of pygmies. Daulne was raised in Belgium, then, in her 20′s, returned to Africa to embrace her heritage after hearing traditional pygmy music. Boston’s own award-winning poet/performer of Nigerian heritage, IYEOKA is the opening act, for this extraordinary night of spoken word, and soulful funky world music. Doors open at 8pm, showtime 9pm. For info call the box office at 617-562-8800.

THE UNIVERSOUL CIRCUS delights Boston, JULY 1 – 6 with “JUBULANI”, promising fun and excitement for the whole family, at Northeastern University‘s Columbus Avenue Parking Lot near Ruggles T station. Tickets range from $10 – 30, with the 10:30am matinee shows on JULY 2 and 3, all seats $10 and special discounts on JULY 4 at noon, 3 and 6pm shows. Tickets on sale at Nubian Notions 617-442-2822, Ticketmaster 617-931-2000 or group sales at 1-800-316-7439. Visit www.universoulcircus.com for more information. For info call 617-572-3327.

Boston’s annual HARBORFEST includes Children’s day JULY 2, at Boston City Hall 10am – 3pm, free and open to the public. For more information visit the Boston Harborfest website.

THE CAPE VERDEAN INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATION takes place JULY 4, 2 – 7pm at Boston City Hall Plaza, North Stage, free and open to the public and includes music, dancing and traditional games, arts and crafts Prices vary for delicious kriolu foods. For info call 617-442-6644.

Elma Lewis Playhouse in the Park’s Opening Night. features ODETTA, 40 years after her first Playhouse performance in 1968. If you can, walk or take the T (bus #16 from Forest Hills & JFK stops). Pack a supper and bring a lawn chair, JULY 8, Playhouse in the Park at 6pm, free and open to the public. For info on this and other events at Franklin Park, call The Franklin Park Coalition at 617-282-2881.

SAVE THE DATE: JULY 28 – AUGUST 3 for the 10th Annual ROXBURY FILM FESTIVAL. Check the RFF website mid July for film descriptions, schedule and ticket information.

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