Bearden photos on display at Leadership Memphis

Standout Profile for The Memphis Daily News

March 29, 2013

Willy Bearden is a local filmmaker best known for works such as his 2010 feature “One Came Home” and the Memphis Memoirs series on WKNO-TV.

He produced the video exhibitions for the Cotton Museum and has produced the New Year’s Eve telecast from Beale Street as well as the Blues Music Awards for the Blues Foundation.

The bearded and bespectacled Bearden is a renaissance man with a down-home flair whose talents extend far beyond any single medium.

“I’m a filmmaker, a writer and a storyteller, and I think all of these things are connected, at least as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I couldn’t be a filmmaker if I weren’t a writer, and I couldn’t be a filmmaker if I didn’t know photography.”

And it’s his photography that will be in the spotlight during an opening reception Friday, March 29, at 6 p.m. at the Leadership Memphis Gallery 363 (365 S. Main St.) during the South Main Art Trolley Tour.

For the show, Bearden culled 10 years of photographs for the 20 or so to be edited, printed and framed.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into it,” Bearden said. “I’ve had a good time going through and choosing things, it’s been interesting to kind of walk back through the thousands of things I’ve shot.”

Ken Hall has partnered with Michel Allen in Allen Projects, a gallery and consulting firm, to curate shows for Leadership Memphis. The Bearden photography installation marks one year for such shows.

Hall has known Bearden for several years and was familiar with his video and production work, but when he saw the still photography for the first time, he wanted to showcase it to the public.

“I was just mesmerized by his great work in still photography,” Hall said. “So immediately – I think the next day – I called him for an exhibition at Gallery 363.”

Bearden, a Rolling Fork, Miss., native, spends a lot of time in the Delta and his photography represents this … (read more)


Teach kids to enjoy city with family

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

March 28, 2013

Teach kids to enjoy city with family

The week before last, for about half a week, it was springtime in Memphis. Remember that? Temperatures in the 70s, sunshine, the saucer magnolia in my front yard even dared to show its colors. Luckily for my kids, that was during their spring break, and we took full advantage of it.

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art held a chalk art festival with folks creating their own works of art on the plaza in front of the museum. Kids got into the act as well and turned the concrete into a rainbow of butterflies, puppies, squiggly lines and shapes. It looked as if spring had fallen upon Midtown alone and blossomed in chalk dust.

From there, it’s only a hop and a skip to the Memphis Zoo. A short trip unless it’s 70, sunny and spring break. The line of cars waiting to get in snaked through the park and down Poplar. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to see the snakes. Or, more accurately, they wanted to touch a stingray. We never did make it into that exhibit; the lines there were too overwhelming for impatient children (and adults). We’ll make a special trip for the rays.

The highlight of the week for me was a visit to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. The museum is a treasure trove of soul, blues, styles and grooves. My kids laughed at Isaac Hayes’ hats and boots; they dug his car with its fuzzy floor and gold detail. They swayed and strutted on the dancefloor in front of a floor-to-ceiling episode of “Soul Train,” and they marveled at the display of black Frisbees. “Those are records,” I explained.

My favorite part is the short film shown at the beginning of every visit. I’ve seen it before, and it never fails to bring a lump to the throat. Stax, in its heyday, rode a wave of hits, fame, funk and, most inspirational, family. Steve Cropper, legendary guitarist for Booker T. & the MG’s, says in the film that when you walked into Stax, you were family. Color did not matter. Until it did. When things turned after that tragic April 4 in 1968, a day we’ll commemorate next week, neither Stax nor the city of Memphis would ever be the same.

In the 10 years since the museum opened, though, that tide has turned again. I saw it two weeks ago in a museum where black and white, young and old, all studied the rise and fall of a great American sound. We laughed at the size of the collars, wiped a tear at the story of a plane crash and danced to the same beat. In a park across town on another day, my kids sidled up to others from throughout the city to revel in color. At our world-class zoo, where there was once a day of the week set aside for black-only visitors, multitudes of all ethnicities wandered.

Last week saw the official first day of spring, though the predicted snow the following day said otherwise. Either way, the long winter hibernation is over. It’s time to get out and visit your city, wherever you live; learn what it holds, its history good and bad, and enjoy time with family that you know, and that you have yet to meet.

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Long, winding road brings Frulla home for legal career

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

March 28, 2013

Before exploring the hushed recesses of a law library and the endless indexes of a legal textbook, Chris Frulla of Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC wanted to explore some of the country.

His wanderlust took him from Memphis, where he’d attended White Station High School, to South Carolina and College of Charleston. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in anthropology and minor in geology and environmental geostudies.

Following college, Frulla worked for a cultural resource management company doing private archeology surveys for two years.

“Eventually I decided that it was something that I enjoyed but not something that I wanted to base my career around, and I started trying to make some decisions about the rest of my life,” he said.

His father is William Frulla, a University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law alumnus and longtime Memphis attorney … (read more)


Bradley, Burch Porter recognized for pro bono work in community

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

March 21, 2013

Burch, Porter & Johnson PLLC and probate attorney Beth Bradley have been honored for giving back to the community.

The firm and the lawyer were recently recognized at the seventh annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala in Nashville with the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Law Firm Award for a partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital that involves helping low-income families manage treatment of their children at the hospital.

The partnership involves attorneys working with those of a low income and newly recognized by the law as adults while mental limitations make a conservatorship necessary.

Heading up the program for Burch Porter is Bradley, a 26-year veteran with the firm. The native Memphian attended St. Agnes Academy before heading east for college at Vanderbilt University with visions of studying pre-med. Along with degrees in French and English came a change of heart, and she instead set her sights on law and stayed on at Vanderbilt for her Juris Doctorate.

“I’ve always been motivated to try to do something positive or that I think can help other people,” she said about her switch to the legal profession.

It’s a trait she gets from her family – her father was a physician, as are her brothers – as well as from the firm … (read more)


Raising the Roof

Centerpiece feature for The Memphis Daily News

March 20, 2013

Blues Foundation in final stage of fundraising for Hall of Fame

If all goes well, The Blues Foundation will be raising the roof on a new Blues Hall of Fame at 421 S. Main St. in six months.

The roof, of course, is already there, and the ground floor now holds the foundation’s offices and a gift shop, but the Raise the Roof campaign is hoping to garner the last $1 million needed of the $2.5 million proposed to build out a first-class venue.

The architecture firm of archimania and the museum exhibit firm Design 500 are working on final plans for what should be another jewel in the city’s heavyweight belt of music that includes Sun Studio, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Graceland and the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.

For a music genre known for testifying to the human condition and championing the everyman, it is fitting that $1.25 million of the funds have come directly from blues fans around the world in the form of direct contributions and membership dues – the Blues Foundation currently has 4,500 individual members.

The Memphis area is responsible for $250,000 with the largest local donors being ArtsMemphis ($175,000), First Tennessee Bank ($45,000) and the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau ($25,000).

“We have been focusing on getting blues fans, wherever they live, to show that this is an important thing and step forward first, and now we’re reaching out more to the Memphis community,” said Jay Sieleman, president and CEO of the foundation.

“The Blues Foundation is recognized around the world for bringing attention and acclaim to this unique, authentic art form,” said Susan Schadt, president and CEO of ArtsMemphis. “Where could be better than Downtown Memphis to house the Blues Music Hall of Fame? It’s thrilling to see the broad base of support Jay Sieleman and the Blues Foundation have garnered for this project, not just in Memphis but nationally.” … (read more)


Holtzclaw on front line of myrian real estate projects

Emphasis on Commercial Real Estate feature for The Memphis Daily News

March 18, 2013

Anna Holtzclaw’s footprint is on property all over Memphis.

Since 2001, the real estate marketing entrepreneur has worked to promote properties developed and designed by the likes of the Henry Turley Co., LRK Inc. and Loeb Properties Inc.

Born and raised in Memphis, Holtzclaw attended St. Mary’s Episcopal School and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville before returning home for a master’s degree in social work.

After receiving an MBA from Boston University, she came home for good after speaking with people in the industry here and being “convinced enough that the job market was going to be friendly to me and I was going to be able to find a great job when I got back,” she said.

The job was vice president of marketing for Henry Turley Co. Company namesake and longtime real estate developer Turley first approached her, she said, with what he called “a little bitty marketing project.”

That project was launching the conversion of the Paperworks Lofts from apartments to condominiums, a new concept for Memphis at the time.

“We were having to explain condo fees and how it was structured and why it was different than an apartment,” Holtzclaw said. “What happens when there are 62 of you that share one roof, who pays for the roof? Kind of educating people how that whole process works.”

With Turley, who she said “is certainly one of the more influential people in my life career-wise,” Holtzclaw helped launch his Wm. Farrington, Shrine Building conversion and Harbor Town condo projects, as well as running his real estate department for a while.

In 2004, however, it was time to move on, and that move would be out on her own with Holtzclaw Group and the goal of continued work on marketing jobs with more personal and professional flexibility … (read more)


History lesson for kids to include what Klan does not stand for

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

March 14, 2013

History lesson for kids to include what Klan does not stand for

It’s been all over the news lately that at the end of this month the Ku Klux Klan plans to march on Memphis. Like any good civic organization staging a rally, or a circus, they’ve applied for and received a permit from the city. And they have presumably tidied themselves up with Tide and some Snuggle fabric softener. It’s always important to make a good first impression.

But this is not their first impression, is it? They’ve been around for far too long. In 1923, my great-grandfather, J.P. Alley, was editorial cartoonist for The Commercial Appeal, and he, along with editor C.P.J. Mooney, used their respective talents to speak out against the KKK. They won the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service that year.

And now, 90 years later, we’re still talking about this gaggle of radicals? It’s the sort of news story I ignored for a while, hoping it might all just go away, thanks to good, common decency. But it looks as though this stain just won’t wash out.

I enjoy teaching my children about their family history, about the good that their great-great-grandfather did, but in this context it seems a bit ridiculous. As far as civil rights has progressed — right here, in this city set as a stage for the world — to have a conversation about a group of misanthropes hiding cowardly beneath cowls in this day and age is surreal.

This needs to be a time, not to teach children what such a group stands for, but what it is they don’t stand for. Equality. Decency. Common sense. Good, Southern manners.

And then there’s the irony that this current brouhaha is over a park. If there is one place in society where we should be teaching our kids to play fair and get along, it’s in the park. Games of freeze tag and kickball, waiting in line for the slide or a turn at the swing, making friends with strangers so there will be enough for a proper game of flag football. This is what should be happening within our parks.

For this discussion, our opinion on what that specific park on Union Avenue should be named is irrelevant. We’ve progressed a lot in 90 years and there are more civil and expedient ways to debate such a subject than with robed anachronisms.

Living in a house with many children, I’ve learned that lines of communication must be left open, that there are ways to work through any disagreement of territory and ownership. Even the newest parent learns quickly that tantrums are ineffective.

As a parent with some years under my belt, let me assure you that a kid wrapping himself in a bed sheet and shouting his misguided tenets at me would land that kid in time out and not upon a pulpit in front of the courthouse.

On the day of the Klan’s proposed rally, we’ll stay away; there’s no reason to poke a hornet’s nest. Perhaps we’ll take the kids to another park where they can run and play and get to know kids of varying ethnicities. Perhaps there will be a history lesson so that, hopefully, we’re not doomed to repeat our mistakes.

I’ll include a chapter on cowardice and one on standing up for your ideals, and that some clans who claim to be better than others because of the way they look are merely cartoons of themselves.

Richard J. Alley is the father of two boys and two girls. Read more from him at Become a fan of “Because I Said So” on Facebook:

© 2013 Memphis Commercial Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Purifoy’s police aspirations evolve into legal career

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

March 14, 2013

Shayla Purifoy majored in urban studies – a mixture of history, political science and sociology – at Rhodes College. Her senior seminar was on community policing.

“It was so much fun, it was so exciting,” she said about her time spent shadowing police officers on the job. “They were helping people and they really were impacting that area, which was the Madison Heights area.”

With this experience, and the mentorship of Mike Kirby, her professor at Rhodes, a goal was realized.

“I decided that I was going to be a cop and no one could tell me any differently,” she said. “I started gun training, I started doing pushups and sit-ups, I was crawling over the wall at the police academy so I could run on their track to be prepared. And then I changed my mind.”

She’d stopped along the way to the police academy just long enough to take the LSAT, she said, “just in case.” It would turn out that law school had a stronger pull than the police academy and she found herself at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. She took a social welfare and policy course, and entered into the general civil litigation clinic to work on domestic violence cases.

The clinic is held now at the law school, but was held at Memphis Area Legal Services Inc. at that time … (read more)



Tunes for tots

Centerpiece feature for The Memphis Daily News

March 13, 2013

Musicians for Le Bonheur raises money for children’s hospital

Just as Jim Jaggers, meteorologist for WREG News Channel 3, uses the power of his bike pedals to raise money and awareness for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital through Go Jim Go, his son Justin is using guitar pedals to do the same.

The younger Jaggers and business partner Rae Williams founded Angry Nerd Productions and created Musicians for Le Bonheur. Through the program, they have elicited the help of musicians and recording technicians across the city to produce a CD and stage live shows all for the benefit of Le Bonheur.

This isn’t the first time Jaggers has used music to fundraise. In 2010, while searching for ways to market his own musical concern and promote the charity, he put together 18 musicians for a 20-track CD. The following year he tied it in with his senior project as a music business major at the University of Memphis and staged a battle of the bands to raise $1,200.

This year, he brings to the table a renewed vigor to the cause and more than 30 local artists crossing many genres willing to record and donate nearly 50 tracks so far, requiring a double album and bonus, digital B-side compilation for download.

Artists already committed to participating include FreeWorld, Star & Micey and The Bo-Keys, among many others.

To set this year apart from others, the partners knew that “we need to make the events bigger, we need to try and brand more and promote more and really try and present Memphis music on a whole new level,” Jaggers said. “Both of us have just been amazed at how quickly this has grown this year.”

The double CD will drop in the beginning of September with a release party on Sept. 13. The project formally kicks off a series of live shows around town throughout the spring and summer at Hard Rock Café on Beale Street the weekend of May 17, a bold move considering locals and visitors alike will be flooding the area for the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.

The $5 cover that night will go toward production of the CD, and all proceeds from sales go directly to the Le Bonheur Foundation … (read more)


Park It Here

Feature story for MBQ magazine

March/April 2013

Park It Here

The Overton Park Conservancy is the newest caretaker for the city’s 111-year-old oasis

In November of last year, Memphis celebrated Overton Park’s 
111th birthday. On 347 acres of land known as Lea Woods, in what was then considered the northeastern part of Memphis, George Kessler of Kansas City, Missouri, designed a park that was to be connected to downtown via parkways and would eventually be swallowed whole by the city, burning bright in the belly as an oasis among asphalt, concrete, cars and steel.

A month after that auspicious birthday, the Overton Park Conservancy celebrated its one-year anniversary. The Memphis Park Commission was dissolved by the Herenton administration in 2000 and folded into city government. In December 2011, the Memphis City Council voted unanimously to allow the Conservancy to take over the management of the 184 acres of public parkland including the Greensward, Rainbow Lake, the formal gardens, Veteran’s Plaza, the 126-acre Old Forest State Natural Area, and the East Parkway picnic area. Though the entities share grounds and work together, OPC has no authority over the Levitt Shell, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis College of Art, Memphis Zoo, or the Overton Park Golf Course. The agreement between the city of Memphis and OPC is a 10-year contract … (read more)

March/April 2013

March/April 2013